Indian CEOs are having a tough time retaining AI, ML, and data science experts

Indian CEOs are having a tough time retaining AI, ML, and data science experts
  • According to LinkedIn’s latest survey, AI/ML jobs are one of the top emerging jobs in India.
  • MakeMyTrip CEO Deep Kalra said it’s one of the toughest challenges they face today.
  • The gap then exists at an academic level which needs to be filled immediately.
Jobs in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are in high demand in India, but finding the right talent for these roles is a difficult task.

AI/ML skills are an important part of new technology adoption -- a route that most Indian companies are taking today. Though the jobs exist, finding and then sustaining the right talent for these jobs is a challenge.

“It’s a real, real pain. Getting good talent for cutting edge new technology is the toughest. There’s such a fight for it. You get people and train them but they leave because they are being offered much higher salaries here and there,” MakeMyTrip CEO Deep Kalra told Business Insider in an earlier interview.

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MakeMyTrip has over 800 people working in tech, but their data science team still has just about 15 people. Kalra said that while the team size is modest, it’s the churn which is the problem.

Pawan Goyal, chief business officer at too agrees that there has been a significant increase in demand for AI/ML hiring. “This is a niche talent and is in short supply. The supply has started increasing. However, there is a long way to go to match the demand,” he said.


A recent KPMG survey says that in the next few years, 50% of the workforce will be preparing for AI, ML and related technologies and that will be the biggest challenge for the HR functions.

As finding the right talent gets more and more difficult, companies are also investing in their own employees and helping them adapt to the latest technologies – putting them through upskilling or reskilling programmes.

“Companies need to rethink on how their employees will work alongside intelligent machines and get them to upskill for newer work profiles, else they will become redundant. Many companies often hold back on upskilling due to budgetary constraints or lack of time . And hence, they are now looking at hiring employees that come some opening balance of AI / ML skills,” said Neeti sharma, senior VP at Teamlease services.

A way out would be for AI/ML to be included at the academic level in graduation colleges.

“AI/ML will be used across all disciplines. Hence, it should become part and parcel of graduate education. This could be initiated by the government. Also, people should make use of the large number of excellent online courses available on platforms such as Coursera to pick up AI/ML skills,” said Goyal.

Picking up the need to bring in these technologies at an academic level, Plaksha university, which has been set up by 50 entrepreneurs, has even partnered with UC Berkeley to bring fellowship programs in AI and ML.

The programme called Tech Leaders Fellowship claims to be a first of its kind with a specialization in AI, ML and immersion in real-world applications, industry experience and leadership.

“Today, there exist more than 5,000 engineering colleges in India, producing about a million engineering graduates every year. But most engineering education is still quite traditional. Plaksha is aiming to re-imagine technology and engineering education in India and the world,” said Vineet Gupta, founding member of Plaksha University, and co-chair of TLF Program Committee.

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