AI/ML Workforce Telcos: Total share of AI/ML workforce in telcos reaches 20% in just one year

AI and ML Jobs

According to staffing experts, the rollout of 5G has led people working in artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML)-driven jobs to account for 20% of communications service providers' workforce, up from 7% in the July-September period of 2022. With telcos maintaining their hiring momentum for these roles, the share of AI/ML-driven jobs is expected to reach 23% by the end of fiscal 2024.

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AI/ML related jobs range from network security to customer service.

“AI/ML roles in the telecom industry include both enterprise business-related roles and roles that focus on innovative trends and emerging technologies,” says Sekhar Garisa, CEO of staffing firm foundit (formerly Monster). “A significant portion of AI/ML roles in the telecom industry are dedicated to improving the customer experience,” he says.

The shortage of skilled talent is also increasing competition to hire AI/ML talent, staffing experts say.

AI/ML professionals are in demand not only in the telecom industry but also in information technology, manufacturing, fintech, etc. Garisa said companies in all these sectors are leveraging AI/ML for critical functions such as fraud detection, risk assessment, algorithmic trading, and deploying AI-powered customer service chatbots.

According to data provided by foundit, in-demand roles include machine learning engineer, data scientist, AI/ML infrastructure engineer, network optimization specialist, cyber security expert, AI/ML solutions architect etc. “From predictive analytics and maintenance to RPA, automated customer service, network optimization and fraud detection, AI/ML professionals fulfill a variety of business needs in the evolving telecom sector,” said Sachin Arugu, chief executive officer of staffing firm NLB Services.

By some estimates, adoption of the AI/ML space across telcos is growing at around 12-15% every quarter. Telecom operators led by Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel have been stepping up their focus on AI/ML, especially with the rollout of next-generation 5G services since October last year.

“At Airtel, roles with skills like Java, cloud and security are on a growth trajectory, while at Jio, data engineering and machine learning are on the rise,” said Foundit's Galisa.

At its annual general meeting this year, Jio's parent company Reliance Industries said it was ramping up its AI/ML workforce to build India-specific solutions in the space. Jio's parent company, Jio Platforms, already has AI/ML divisions across various functions including edtech, healthcare, entertainment and internet of things.

Vodafone Idea is mapping AI/ML skills to specific roles and enabling employees to learn through online courses, massive open online course certifications and immersive learning opportunities, the company said in response to ET's queries.

“Vi AI Centre of Excellence's recruitment strategy focuses on a mix of experienced and fresher talent. We recruit freshers from top institutes and train them in-house as per global AI standards,” a company spokesperson said.

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