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Bengaluru: With generative AI creating enormous excitement across industries, demand for professionals skilled in AI and machine learning (ML) is soaring in India. Staffing firm Randstad says hiring for AI and ML roles has been increasing by 30% each year since the pandemic, while demand for other digital skills has been growing at half that rate. It estimates there are about 200,000 professionals skilled in AI/ML in India.

Randstad’s global delivery and talent officer Rohit Kishore says the growing relevance of Gen AI has created new job roles, and that organisations are constantly striving to bring AI and ML to the core of their digital transformation journey. Several implementations have demonstrated that AI/ML can automate a host of processes and significantly aid humans to increase productivity.

Jung Bahadur, director for talent solutions at professional services firm Aon says global capability centres (GCCs) of MNCs in India are driving the growth in demand for AI and ML-related roles. GCCs are technology and shared services arms of MNCs. More and more GCCs are being established in India, and newer ones are coming in to tap into Indian tech talent to help the parent companies digitally transform. “Even traditional businesses now want to become digital for which AI/ML is a key factor. These companies are across industries, including health, manufacturing. That is the difference between 2021 and now,” Bahadur says. Aon’s data shows salaries for AI and ML roles are substantially higher than for most other roles, and that product firms pay the most. The annual salary for those with 0 to 5 years of experience in AI/ML at an IT services firm is between Rs 14 lakh and 18 lakh, in GCCs it’s between Rs 16 lakh and Rs 20 lakh, and in product firms, it’s between Rs 22 lakh and Rs 26 lakh. For the same experience level, salaries for other digital tech roles range between Rs 8 lakh and Rs 22 lakh.

For those with 10-15 years of AI/ML experience, salaries go up to between Rs 44 lakh and Rs 96 lakh. Bahadur says AI/ML specialists are expected to get a 12.5% salary increment this year, compared to the expected 9% for the rest of India Inc. HR solutions firm Teamlease says that AI and ML roles fetch a salary premium of between 10% and 15% over other tech roles. In some cases the premium goes up to 50%.

Krishna Vij, business head at Teamlease, says that at least a dozen new roles have come up in the AI/ML area. At the entry level, these are roles like chatbot developer and prompt engineer. At the mid to senior level, there are roles like AI ethics specialist and robotics engineer. In education technology, there are roles like AI curriculum developer and AI learning architect. Vij says upskilling of existing talent can help to fill some of these roles. For instance, manufacturing engineers could become automation specialists or robotics engineers; IT security specialists could become AI security specialists.

Aon’s Bahadur says employers are prioritising talent with sectoral or domain knowledge, over those who have merely completed a course in AI/ML.

  • Published On Mar 28, 2024 at 07:30 PM IST

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