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India Lacks Senior AI Engineers

Technology companies in India have reported a significant increase in training their employees in artificial intelligence (AI) skills over the past year. However, despite these efforts, there is a noticeable shortage of talent in core AI products and services in the country.

Major players in the technology sector, including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, Accenture, HCLTech, Microsoft India, and IBM, have invested heavily in upskilling their workforce. For instance, TCS alone claims to have trained 350,000 employees in AI skills, while Infosys reports that eight out of 10 of its employees are AI-ready. Accenture is undertaking a massive upskilling initiative for 250,000 employees, and HCLTech has trained 50,000 employees in AI. Microsoft India aims to skill 2 million people in AI by 2025, and IBM has committed to training 2 million individuals globally by 2026.

Despite these impressive figures, data from specialist staffing firm Xpheno reveals that the active pool of senior AI engineers involved in building core AI products and services in India is less than 2,000. This includes AI-based applications, tools, and platforms. The total accessible talent pool in India with the necessary skills and experience in core AI is estimated to be under 21,000.

This stark contrast between the number of individuals trained in AI and the actual talent available raises questions about the nature of the training provided and its relevance to the industry’s needs. According to experts, while many employees are undergoing AI training, much of it is focused on broader applications of AI rather than core engineering skills. This broader training encompasses embedding AI into existing solutions and improving daily tasks and productivity across various functions, including marketing and HR.

The training provided by companies like TCS and Accenture aims to upskill employees who may not necessarily be involved in building AI tools but will play a role in integrating AI into existing solutions. Additionally, there is training targeted at enabling employees to leverage AI tools for their specific functions, such as marketing or customer service.

In terms of specific AI skills, engineers are being trained in areas like data science, machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision. These skills are essential for engineers to adapt to the changing landscape of technology and remain relevant in the face of AI disruption.

Despite the shortage of core AI talent, there is a growing demand for AI skills in India. According to a report by Nasscom and BCG, demand for AI talent is expected to grow by 15% annually. However, there is already a significant gap between supply and demand for niche AI skills required for building core AI products.

While India awaits the mainstream adoption of AI, there is a need for a more targeted approach to AI training that focuses on building specific skills relevant to core AI engineering. Companies, both in the IT sector and beyond, recognize the importance of investing in AI training to stay competitive in the evolving technology landscape.

In conclusion, while there is a surge in AI training initiatives in India, there remains a shortage of talent in core AI products and services. To address this gap, there is a need for more specialized training programs that cater to the specific skill requirements of the industry.

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