Job Opportunities

AI, data science and other fields Indian techies can skill themselves in to survive the IT bust

Jobs involving artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data have become mainstream of late.

Layoffs and hiring freezes in Indian IT are likely to continue in 2018, but it’s not as hopeless as it seems.

Despite the sector laying off over 56,000 employees in 2017, there is still high demand for skills in new technologies. Because, after remaining “niche skills” for several years, jobs involving artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data have become mainstream of late.

This trend is going to gain momentum in 2018 when the industry is expected to add between 180,000 and 200,000 new jobs, mostly related to these new technologies, Alka Dhingra, the general manager of IT staffing at recruitment firm TeamLease Services, said. This includes both large services companies as well as startups.

In the coming year, organisations will delve deeper into data to create a real-life impact, Karan Bajwa, managing director at IBM India, said. “(The) Cloud platform, fused with disruptive technologies such as AI, blockchain, cognitive (intelligence), internet of things (IoT), data analytics, and security will become the backbone of businesses looking to scale up and stay relevant in the future.”

What’s hot

Here’s a list of areas where job creation is expected in 2018:

AI: From legacy services companies such as Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys to India’s unicorns, nearly all Indian tech companies are going big on AI. It is essentially the technology that trains machines to learn from experience and perform human-like tasks. For instance, the country’s largest IT services firm, Tata Consultancy Services, has trained over 200,000 employees in AI and IoT.

Young businesses are also aggressively chasing this technology. Last month, India’s e-commerce poster boy, Flipkart, announced a new initiative called AI for India, under which it plans to leverage the data it has accumulated over the last decade to develop AI-driven solutions that could help its business. The company plans to invest “millions of dollars” in the initiative.

Flipkart-owned fashion portal Myntra has also developed Rapid, an AI platform that performs various functions, including designing clothes and improving manufacturing processes. Taxi company Ola plans to use AI to improve the customer experience.

Such companies will require professionals skilled in machine learning (getting computers to perform tasks), deep learning (analysing unstructured data), or natural language processing (using computation to analyse human languages).

Blockchain specialists: With bitcoin becoming the rage globally, industry experts expect this field to become a massive job creator. Cryptocurrencies are drawing Indian investors like never before, and legal experts are calling for regulations. “There could be regulations (for bitcoin) coming, and hence somebody who knows the subject is going to be in demand,” Aditya Narayan Mishra, CEO of CIEL HR Services, said.

Digital marketing: Startups and legacy companies across sectors are adopting digital technologies in various functions, such as HR, operations, manufacturing, warehousing, and communications. Similarly, marketing is no longer restricted to traditional mediums either; digital marketing is fuelling demand for talent.

“Global technology disruptions, coupled with the Indian government’s aggressive focus on digital, have seen their impact on the local labour market. With more companies in India wanting to increase their digital presence, there is a visible surge in job searches for digital marketing jobs,” Sashi Kumar, the managing director of jobs portal Indeed India, said.

Data science: Indian internet companies that have been around for some years have gathered massive consumer data and now they plan to start mining it to their advantage. Like Flipkart’s AI for India initiative, food-tech startup Swiggy is also working on using the consumer data it has collected to make deliveries more efficient.

Newer areas such as pharmacy analytics – a combination of healthcare and analytics – would also throw up jobs for data scientists, HR experts say.

“For an experienced data scientist, even with just a couple of years of experience, there are many opportunities in the market,” Kris Lakshmikanth, founder of recruitment firm HeadHunters India said. “Even for freshers in the field, the future is way brighter than what a Java-trained engineer would have.”

Machine learning, data scientists, and data analytics jobs are the most popular searches on Indeed.com in India, Kumar told Quartz.

For new graduates

Engineering graduates who simply bring generic coding skills have very limited options in the Indian tech industry. Instead, HR experts believe that engineers will now have to earn specialised masters degrees to retain jobs or find new ones.

However, the quality of engineers in India is abysmal, though its education system generates the highest number of engineers in the world every year.

Since the curricula are mostly outdated, recruiters say students must make up for this outside of colleges, with supplement theoretical learning and hands-on experience. “Engineering students should choose their internships very carefully and get as much exposure as possible in real-life than just textbooks,” Mishra of CIEL said.

Students who manage to make it to the top-rung colleges are slightly better off.

“I don’t think students from the top 100 or even 200 colleges will have many issues. These students will easily be absorbed by the industry,” Lakshmikanth of HeadHunters said. “But to get more lucrative opportunities, they will also need to hone their skills in new technologies.”

This article first appeared on Quartz.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.