A test of skills: India’s job growth opportunity with AI

  • Careers
  • Solutions
  • 2023
  • Kamolika Gupta Peres
September 18, 2023

Job growth: 4 Indian workers in conversation around a table

AI could usher in a $500 billion wave of growth that ignites India’s economy, according to The Indian Express. That spike could bring with it significant job growth—but only if talent transformation is prioritized throughout our industries.

India’s government has already laid the foundation for upskilling and reskilling the workforce to benefit from AI and automation with its Skill India initiative, vision to launch AI centers of excellence, and commitment to equip 625,000 IT professionals through its Digital India campaign.

Substantial government investment in the technology sector has helped propel India to fifth in the world for funding AI-focused startups, according to Mint. And we’ve already begun to identify skills that will equip India’s workforce with the greatest growth and resilience in the face of technological changes.

Businesses and industries that build on these foundations will likely benefit the most from AI and automation—not just in India, but on the global stage.

Redefining India’s industries, for good

Recent research by ServiceNow and Pearson suggests that between now and 2027, 16.2 million full-time employees in India will need reskilling and upskilling due to AI’s influence on work across the country.

Nearly half of these jobs fall within the manufacturing and agriculture, forestry, and fishing industries—both of which involve substantial amounts of repetitive work that lends itself to automation.

At the same time, AI will create the need for as many as 4.7 million new technology-related jobs in India by 2027, across:

  • Manufacturing (902,000 new jobs)

  • Retail (677,300 new jobs)

  • Education (197,100 new jobs)

  • Finance and insurance (106,300 new jobs)

The most in-demand jobs will include application developers, data analysts, and platform owners.


AI will create the need for as many as 4.7 million new technology-related jobs in India by 2027. -ServiceNow and Pearson, AI's Impact on the Tech Skills of Tomorrow, 2023

Freeing humans for creativity

AI also promises to augment numerous existing roles—assisting with repetitive tasks in a way that frees humans for greater productivity and creativity. This large-scale skill augmentation across diverse functions and sectors is expected to add the equivalent of 4.6 million full-time jobs of operational capacity to India’s economy over the next five years.

These industry shifts highlight the effect AI and automation can have on India’s growth, particularly in multiplying the productivity of workers and adding a large number of higher-value jobs to the economy.

They also demonstrate the need for significant upskilling and reskilling of India’s workforce—in the use of AI and automation technologies, as well as in disciplines that create value and innovation in ways AI and automation can’t.

For those in roles that are becoming increasingly automated, it will be important to hone existing skills that translate into more relevant fields or entirely new tech jobs. Programmers, for example, whose roles will be heavily augmented by AI, might benefit from skills in user experience, digital marketing, or low-code software development.

Flipping the script on growth

The opportunities for growth are large, but will India’s workforce be sufficiently equipped in time to take advantage of them? The answer will depend on the extent to which India’s business leaders and policymakers prioritize talent transformation.

Skill India Digital, a breakthrough initiative by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), is driving efforts to skill, reskill, and upskill individuals. However, industry leaders must flip the script on their organizational priorities: from maintaining an efficient status quo to investing in ways for people to build future-relevant skills.

We already have the tools at our disposal to guide this talent transformation by identifying “jobs of best fit” for workers using research methodologies such as those developed by Pearson. These methodologies highlight transferable skills that workers in fields disrupted by AI and automation can employ in high-demand tech roles.

The research found that India’s fishery workers possess 64% of the skills typically required of help desk support agents using the ServiceNow platform. Identifying these skills overlaps can help uncover the shortest upskilling pathways from current to future roles.

It can also ensure higher chances of successful reskilling so that those who learn new skills are likely to translate their learnings into relevant employment.

Prioritizing upskilling and reskilling

At a macro level, these insights can guide more effective design of upskilling and reskilling programs in different regions of India. Skills pathways and recruitment for help desk agents, for example, might benefit from focusing on areas with a high concentration of fisheries.

India’s industry leaders would do well to make upskilling and reskilling a key focus for action in the years ahead. The demand and subsequent business case for skills already exists.

Bangalore has the highest demand for ServiceNow skills of any city in the world in 2023. Job postings in India requiring ServiceNow skills grew 39% in the past year, according to labor market data from Lightcast.1 RiseUp with ServiceNow can help workers gain the skills they need to move into a role using the ServiceNow platform.

Organizations that fill these demands with new skilling frameworks and training initiatives—while continually reassessing which skills are needed and where they can best be cultivated—will find themselves at significant competitive advantage.

Competing well is what India does best. We’re arguably the most competitive economy in the world, a trait that has driven our growth in recent history. Strategic upskilling at scale will be essential to maintaining that competitiveness in a future transformed by AI and automation.

Get more insights about the impact of AI and automation on tech skills.

1 Lightcast Global, India Job posting, August 2023

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