India is amongst the leading IT / ITES providing country in the world and the world today is highly dependent on India for IT / ITES. India has become the digital capabilities hub of the world with around 75 percent of global digital talent present in the country.The foundation for this was laid by our education system mainly science and math lead engineering courses.
But the IT/ITES landscape is changing. With world moving towards automation most of services are getting serviced by bots and India in next couple of years may face a major job loss situation. With AI technologies showing great progress every day, more sophisticated jobs which are dependent on humans like call center jobs, financial data analysis , healthcare speech to text based transcriptions will be completely taken over by AI technologies.
IT development is also undergoing major transformation. Jobs like quality assurance once thought to be integral part of any software development team is getting shrunk in size as automated testing and agile test driven development methodologies are being used. Now every IT project surely has an AI piece in it.
So in this changing IT/ITES scenario how should India prepare and skill its next workforce ? Will our existing educational curriculum be enough to make young people be ready of challenging jobs ?
If we consider AI skill set, we lack the number of professionals who are working on AI projects or developing AI. The Apex body of IT companies in India NASSCOM says — As the demand for disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Analytics grows, shortage of a skilled professionals to run them is posing a challenge to the stake-holders, “There is an urgent need to re-skill about 50 percent of India’s IT professionals, as demand for it in new technologies remains unmet,” Nasscom’s IT-ITeS (IT-enabled Services) Sector Skills Council chief executive told.
The demand-supply gap for skills affected the industry’s performance in 2018, due to the shortage of 140,000 skilled techies for 500,000 jobs in the industry across verticals. “Going forward, the industry will face a shortage of 230,000 skilled techies as jobs in AI and Big Data are estimated to be 780,000 by 2021.
For me the answer to this lies in preparing our youths at young age with AI and programming skills. China, Russia & The USA have started introducing AI in its Primary, Secondary school curriculum.
Skilling our youth on AI makes us build indigenous capabilities to solve local problems. India needs a strong plan to execute this critical step. We don’t want to be a dependent on foreign companies with western or eastern world bias to drive our AI needs. It’s important for us to be indigenous as it is critical for country security and progress. AI & data science can yield very powerful results. We shouldn’t be dependent on other countries like how India is dependent for nuclear capabilities on other countries and allow them to arm twist.
India has taken certain right steps towards this direction. Recent survey announced that India is the 13th most advanced country in the world towards the development of artificial intelligence technologies.
NITI Aayog the think tank for India has proposed Rs 7500 cr plan for AI Push. This plan will be executed by creation of cloud computing platform called AIRAWAT an AI Research, Analytics and knoWledge Assimilation platform.
In a strategic move, CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) has announced that it is introducing AI and programming to its Secondary school curriculum. This is indeed a bold move and I have written detailed article about the same.
I am sure the above steps are initial pointers of more to come. China is already leading AI race followed by US and Russia. It’s time we focus on building our AI research skillset and build India specific computer vision, NLP , text to speech applications from ground up. I am sure in next 5 years as Vladimir Putin says “whoever controls AI will control the world”