The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the global economy hard and has severely affected small and medium companies. As a result, the unemployment rate has plunged rapidly. However, on a positive note, the saying ‘a crisis often paves way for new opportunities’ holds true. The coming days will see a boom in data science and artificial intelligence jobs.
There is an unprecedented demand for latest technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) that could be used for accurate and real time prediction of vulnerable population at greater risk of infection along with precise identification of high-risk zones. This helps the administration and health care establishments to deploy the already scarce resources to effectively deal with the pandemic. It is interesting to note how data is being used to beat the pandemic. Such things were unheard off in the past.
On the cure front as well, scientists are deploying AI techniques for searching new molecules capable of treating the new virus. Take the case of Healx, a company, that is repurposing its AI system to find suitable drug with a detailed analysis of eight million possible pairs and 10.5 billion triple drug combinations from 4,000 approved drugs in the market.
This new global shift has only accelerated the demand for well versed data science, AI and ML professionals.
As per reports, India alone contributes to more than 6% of data science, AI and ML job openings worldwide. Due to the constant rise in demand for professionals in these fields, educational institutions and universities are carefully designing and delivering courses to train the students and meet the industry standards. While most institutions are offering these courses at the post graduate level, some of them are looking to offer diverse courses in data science at the graduate levels as well. To meet this demand, it is imperative that universities introduce more specialised courses in AI, ML and data science in addition to traditional BE/BTech course.
In the coming years, there will be an influx of students choosing to join AI/ML and data science courses both at undergraduate as well as at graduate levels. In the 1990’s and 2000, Computer and IT related courses saw massive popularity globally, and a similar trend would be observed for AI/ML and data science courses during the next decade. On the other hand, the traditional BE/BTech programmes need to be revamped to add a few relevant AI/ML elective course. This will equip the engineers to use data science techniques more effectively in their respective fields.
(The author is Professor, IFIM B School)