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BENGALURU : Devashish Lenka, a techie with about four years of experience, got a whopping 200% salary hike from a leading IT firm in Pune. This was the result of him finishing a course in data science that landed him a data engineer’s post. The reason: data scientists are in huge demand and there are not enough of them to fill vacancies.

There were as many as 93,500 data science job vacancies in India at the end of August 2020 for the want of relevant profiles, according to the latest report on analytics and data science jobs by Great Learning. Sectors such as banking, financial services and insurance, e-commerce, edtech and logistics are on the lookout for fresh and top-rated tech talent in such roles.

Data science is the study of extracting value from data. Data scientists help firms interpret and manage large, complex sets of data and convert them into valuable insights to solve critical business problems. They typically have a foundation in computer science, modelling, statistics, analytics and math, coupled with a strong business sense.

The demand has been created by multinationals and Indian businesses that are increasingly gravitating towards digital technologies to remain competitive in a post-pandemic world. “With growing digital footprints across domains, companies are churning out huge volumes of data, thus creating a plethora of opportunities for hiring a large number of data scientists," said Hari Krishnan Nair, co-founder, Great Learning.

The short supply has led to a spike in salaries. Data science professionals with 3-10 years of experience get annual salaries in the range of 25 lakh to 65 lakh, while more experienced people can command annual salaries upwards of 1 crore, according to the Talent Trends Report 2021 by Michael Page India, a recruitment firm. Experts with more than 15 years of experience can get paid up to 1.8 crore per year.

“The demand for data science professionals is at an all-time high and the supply has not been able to catch up, leading to an acute shortage of talent. Firms are willing to pay a premium along with other benefits and long-term incentives to attract and retain employees, leading to a hike in overall compensation," said Karan Madhok, associate director, Michael Page India.

Historically, the demand for data science professionals was limited to e-commerce and IT, but has now cut across industries such as automobile, manufacturing, shipping and logistics, pharmaceutical, life sciences, media and gaming.

The World Economic Forum predicts that data scientists and analysts will become the No. 1 emerging role in the world by 2022. Talent consulting firm Han Digital estimates that by 2025, demand for data science related jobs will be three times that of the current market trend.

Thousands of engineers like Lenka are picking taking cues and upskilling to acquire new-age digital skills. An Employability Survey report by Aspiring Minds revealed that 80% of Indian engineers are not fit for any job in the knowledge economy and only 2.5% of them possess tech skills in emerging technologies that the industry require.

“Upskilling is the key differentiator to be relevant. People with knowledge in Python/Java with any data visualization tools can be upskilled to become a data science ecosystem player," said Saran Balasundaram, founder and CEO, Han Digital. “After upskilling, professionals who are already in the job get preference over freshers."

To be sure, learning companies are seeing a surge in demand for their upskilling courses, especially in niche technologies. Online certification company Jigsaw Academy has seen a 50% month-on-month rise in enrolments to its postgraduate certification programme in data science and machine learning. Jigsaw has also partnered with Shiv Nadar University to launch a “holistic" “Data Science and Analytics for Business" program to bridge the skill gap faced by students while applying for jobs, said Sarita Digumarti, cofounder and chief operating officer, Jigsaw.

Similarly, cloud training provider CloudThat Technologies has seen its enrollments rise 75% in the past 10 months. “Data Science is an emerging discipline and the scarcity of experts is evident with low supply and high demand ratio. Students can utilize this opportunity to build lucrative careers," said Bhavesh Goswami, founder and CEO, CloudThat.

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