Companies in the US have been on the layoff spree during the pandemic. Among the prominent ones, we have witnessed thousands of layoffs in companies such as Lyft, Airbnb and Uber just in the last week or so. According to reports, there are hundreds of thousands of Indian technologists currently stranded in America amid mass layoffs. While their grace periods period has been extended by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, without a job those professionals have to leave the country.
More than 30 million jobs in the US have been lost since April due to COVID19 pandemic. Plus, the US government announced that the US government is going to temporarily suspend the H-1B visa program for protecting domestic jobs amid record-high unemployment in the US.
There was an immense pressure on the US government to suspend foreign worker visas for at least a year or at until unemployment rates return to normal levels. A Majority of Indian workers come under the purview of H-1B visa. This means that the suspension of the H-1B visa means hundreds of thousands of Indian workers in the US may remain without jobs, the majority of whom may be soon heading back to India.
And therefore it is expected that thousands of techies will be making their way back to India including data scientists analytics professionals as well. So what impact would the analytics field have on? As unfortunate as it is for many data scientists and analytics professionals to relinquish their high-paying US jobs, they can still continue their career path in India as well, where there is strong demand for data science jobs.
Relieving Talent Scarcity In India
If you look at the Indian tech industry, it has been comparatively more immune to data science layoffs, and companies have retained quality talent. It is expected in a case where Indian data scientists working in America make a return, will boost the availability of quality talent coming back to India in data science and analytics. This may also relieve the industry of talent scarcity among companies that are looking for quality talent.
According to a report from Analytics India Magazine, there will be no significant contraction for the analytics functions of the domestic and MNC IT firms operating in India. In terms of jobs, the effect of the recession could result in a 10-15% drop in open jobs. The report suggests that once the recession lifts, IT companies will receive a steady flow of orders, which would benefit the analytics offerings – reaching pre-crisis levels three months after the recession ends. The availability of extra talent may uplift the industry further.
We May See More Data Science Offshoring To India
While the pandemic may soon taper off, it will leave behind the deep economic impact forcing companies to cut costs. India has always been the favourite of offshoring technology talent. It is expected India will become an attractive destination for data science due to cost differential, and the fact that data science work can be done remotely and from home, it sends a positive signal.
“The global pandemic has made the world an open talent market, benefitting Indian firms which may provide analytics/data science services. If H1-B visa holders are forced to relinquish their jobs, India-based firms will likely consume the talent and that would help boost the domestic analytics industry in terms of quality. We will see more global in-house centres (GICs) for data science and analytics consultancy firms flourish with the boost in available talent,” tells Subhobroto Ghosh, Head – Data, Analytics & Actuarial at Allstate India.
There Will Better Quality Data Science Talent
But how will it impact the talent market in general? Over the years, a lot of professionals without expertise in core data science training had converted into data science. This may change soon, and more value will be given to those with specialised skills. The job losses and the pandemic makes it imperative for companies to create a balance between quality hiring and cost optimisation across business functions.
“A lot of companies are looking in India for quality talent, and if professionals make their way to India from the US, it will balance the jobs scenario in India in terms of supply and demand. If talent from the US comes back in, we have better quality analytics skills available in the Indian market,” says Puesh Rajiv Ajmani, Global Head of Analytics & Insights at Square Panda, a cloud-based, AI education company.
Experts say that while companies in India will continue to hire for data scientists and analytics professionals, they will favour the quality of skills that bring value to the table. “Now that companies have limited budgets on data science and analytics projects, they will value professionals with lateral movement towards more specific and niche roles. But, with enough availability of talent, it will impact the entry-level and bottom of the pyramid jobs,” adds Puesh.
Subhobroto Ghosh agrees and says, “Such professionals have been exposed to higher-end analytics jobs, doing cutting edge work. While exceptional data science talent with MS or PhD degrees are unlikely to come back, their talent would certainly be appreciated if they make their way back to India as they have been embedded into cutting edge data analytics & machine learning work in big tech companies. Such data scientists working in niche areas of AI, NLP, computer vision, etc help them get the exposure which is highly valuable in India.”
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Vishal Chawla is a senior tech journalist at Analytics India Magazine and writes about AI, data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and blockchain. Vishal also hosts AIM's video podcast called Simulated Reality- featuring tech leaders, AI experts, and innovative startups of India.