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AI, Big Data And Analytics Skills Command 50-100 Percent Premium In Pay Packages

Digital skills are to 2019 what computer engineering skills were 10-15 years back. Information technology companies are now ready to shell out significantly higher to acquire talent with nice skills.

With every firm trying to increase their income from digital services and trying to establish a strong digital capability, the race to acquire people trained in skills such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data and analytics, machine learning, and even advanced user experience, has grown intense.

“The rapid increase in pay packages to those with such skills can be seen across both freshers and experienced employees. Earlier, companies paid a premium when they hired a skilled lateral but, at the fresher level, the salary offerings were pretty uniform. Now, that has changed as they seek to hire and retain premium talent,” said Kris Lakshmikanth, founder and managing director of The Head Hunters India.

Especially for staff having experience of at least three years, companies are investing in training them in specialized domains and technologies, he added. This makes it all the more important for them to offer stronger incentives for retention.

Consequently, over the past year, there has been almost 50 percent hike in the salaries of such talent. This has also been reflected in the numbers reported by the IT majors in the ongoing financial year when the employee costs have increased uniformly despite the hiring numbers been largely erratic.

“Historically, the demand for such talent was centric to some of the early adopters like BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance), IT and e-commerce. However, there is a widespread adoption by other industries such as automobile, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, life sciences, logistics and media, among others,” said Karan Madhok, manager, Michael Page India.

Given there is a shortage of high-caliber candidates vis-à-vis demand, companies are willing to pay a premium along with other benefits and long-term incentives in order to retain talent, leading to an increase in the overall compensation levels, Madhok said.

According to Michael Page’s 2019 Salary Index, skills in digital analytics and data sciences can fetch employees a hike between Rs 18 lakh and Rs 1.55 crore (per annum) depending on their experience. There is a high demand for professionals with expertise in niche areas such as computer vision, natural language processing and speech analytics. Companies are showing a preference for professionals with strong hands-on experience, even at leadership levels, across industries.

Global companies, e-commerce platforms and software product firms are more likely to pay such premiums.

On the other hand, traditional technology roles of project managers, infrastructure and application managers and developers can only command Rs 20 lakh to Rs 70 lakh salary (per annum), found the report.

“The average salary increase for a generic skill is between 10 percent and 20 percent. But for niche skills, people receive hikes upwards of 50 percent,” said Alka Dhingra, general manager, TeamLease Services. Besides, she said, many companies have now discovered that they already have the people they need but are merely using them in an ineffective way.―Business Standard

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