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Only 3 Percent Techies Possess New-Age AI, ML Skills, Study Finds

Only 3 Percent  Techies Possess New-Age AI, ML Skills, Study Finds

Assistant Editor

28 Mar, 2019

Aspiring Minds recently released its seventh annual report on employability. The company is one of the largest data science based employability assessment and job credentialing companies in the world. The report states that only 3.84% of our engineers are equipped with technical, cognitive and language skills necessary for startups that are software based. That's quite shocking for a country that has engineers present in almost every nook and corner of it. 

Shockingly, only 3% of the engineers have new-age skills in areas like machine-learning, artificial intelligence (AI), data science and mobile development. The report was based on a sample size of more than 1,70,000 engineering students from more than 750 engineering colleges in the country. 

Additionally, engineers in US code better than the engineers in India. Only 4% of engineers are not able to write a compilable code, despite the fact that the base of engineering population in US is around 4 times smaller than in India. Moreover, around 18.8 percent of US engineers applying for IT jobs can code correctly in contrast to 4.7% of Indian engineers. 

The report also adds, "If we consider only those candidates who can write correct codes with just a few errors, the gap between China and India is narrow (86% vs. 9.8% respectively)."

Surprisingly, even though the percentage of Indian engineers who code well is more than Chinese engineers, a higher number of Indian engineers (around 37.7%) cannot write a compatible code as compared to Chinese engineers (around 10.35%). This means that we need to teach our students proper coding skills to increase their efficiency. 

"We found that only about 3% of engineers have new-age skills in AI, data, mobile and cloud. This is a situation which must be immediately remedied - both for the sake of Indian industry, and our relevance to the world at large," said Varun Aggarwal, CTO and co-founder of Aspiring Minds. 

Adding to the report stats, only around 2.5% of the engineering graduates possess the necessary AI skills and only around 5.5% have the basic programming skillset. In simpler terms, only around 1.5% of the engineers in India have the required skills for the existing job market. 

The employability rate of Indian engineers is also low. A staggering 89% of engineers in India are considered unemployable for any job in the knowledge economy. The report downright refutes the Modi government's tall claims about Skill India. 

It further emphasised on the fact that the government of India needs to prioritise higher education. It also needs to begin with long-term policy interventions in the next 5 to 10 years so as to boost the current low rate of engineering employability. 

Furthermore, the report has also put a question mark on the 'Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana' (PMKVY). As per the report, if so many engineering students are not able to acquire enough skills for the knowledge market, then what did the PMKVY did in the past few years. The Yojana was launched in July 2015, almost a year after Modi was elected as PM. Around 15000 crore has been allotted to equip youngsters with some skills. In 2016, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana was revamped with a new mission to provide training to 10 million youngsters with funds of around 12000 crore. 

On contrary, the data shows that only 1.4 million were properly trained by the National Skill Development Counsel (NSDC), according to a report by Deccan Herald. Only 0.9 million people were certified and 0.1 million of actually got placed. This brings the total number to only 8.5% of those that underwent skill programmes. 

The report also highlights that only ad-hoc changes in the Indian education system will not solve the problem, we need a much more structural and foundational change so as to deal with high unemployability numbers. 

It further stresses on the fact that Indian students need to move from basic coding skills and keep up with the 21st century demands. The tech industry needs to focus on graduates becoming well equipped with skills like ML, AI and data science. Engineering colleges should also take responsibility of moving on from theory-based knowledge and teach students what's 'actually' required in the tech world. 

The findings also underscore the theoretical education provided in engineering colleges of India with only 40 percent of the students performing internships and only 36 percent undertaking projects apart from their coursework. 

The survey also emphasizes on the fact that students don't have enough industry exposure. "Students are trapped in a college bubble. They have little industry exposure. Only 47% of the students attend industry talks. 60% of the faculty doesn't discuss how engineering concepts apply to industry," states the report. 

The report suggests that the problems can be solved by a mix of counseling programmes, technology including AI and tools that can help students evaluate their skills, find company that matches their skillset and prepare for the interview accordingly. 

The report concludes with the following statement, "Our students need counseling to understand the kinds of jobs that are available; how to determine which job profiles match their interests and skills; the skill gaps that may disqualify them; and how to address those skill gaps."

By: Neha Maheshwari