Artificial Intelligence

Can Budget 2024 Help Bridge Skills Gap In India?

In the budget, Sitharaman announced a Rs 1-lakh-crore corpus for research and innovation, which was welcomed by the industry, with experts indicating that it will encourage the private sector to scale up research and innovation and be a boost for tech-savvy youth.

“Focus on both upskilling initiatives and robust R&D investments will not only broad-base innovation and startup culture, but also result in the creation of a tech-savvy workforce,” BenQ India Managing Director Rajeev Singh said.

However, to bridge this AI skills gap, a more concerted effort will be required from various stakeholders, including academia, industry and the government.

While investment in building technical institutes that support AI education and training programmes is a long-term strategy, in the short term, it is essential to develop a comprehensive and industry-relevant curriculum that covers core AI concepts and practical applications.

For example, generative AI requires a strong foundation in mathematics and statistics, along with programming. The government can collaborate with technology companies and academic institutions to design and implement AI-focused curriculum in schools and universities.

Collaboration between educational institutions and industry players will also help provide students with real-world exposure to AI technologies and challenges. Industry-academia partnerships can facilitate knowledge transfer, research collaborations and mentorship programmes, enabling students to acquire practical skills that are in line with requirements of the technology sector.

The onus lies on the government to also support initiatives aimed at promoting AI education and research through funding and policy interventions. By offering financial support and incentives to technical research and innovation, and to the institutions and industrial training centres undertaking them, the government can help develop a skilled workforce that meets the demands of the AI industry.

The estimated demand for AI and AI-related domain experts will cross 1 million in India by 2026, according to Nasscom. The critical element will thus be timely integration of AI skills development and training programmes in the present education and industry infrastructure.

AI is moving faster than humans, and time will be of the essence to bridge this skills gap.


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