Looking for an IT job? These hot skills will help

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on November 07, 2019

Skills in AI, machine learning, blockchain and cyber security will see huge demand in the coming years, say recruiters

Pramod, 40, a software engineer with a large IT company, is having a mid-life crisis. Bored of writing hundreds of lines of code every day, he wants to quit the monotonous job and shift to a more challenging role that also gives him a good package. However, he is clueless on the right skill sets he needs to acquire.

Pramod is not alone in this predicament. There are thousands of such mid-level software professionals who either want to make a course correction or have been told by their organisation to acquire new skills if they are to remain relevant.

BusinessLine spoke to top recruiters in the IT industry on what skill sets will be in demand going forward. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), blockchain, cyber security, big data analytics and robotics topped the list.

Kamal Karanth, Co-Founder, Xpheno, said that the top IT skills for 2020 and later will include AI and ML. The near term demand for these five skills is estimated to be close to 52,000.

While there are not many surprise entrants to the hot skills list, the rise of cyber security into the top three from fifth in the list is expected to be faster than that of ML & Natural Language Processing. Nearly 26 per cent of the 52,000 openings are in the ‘₹15 lakh and above’ annual package, and a notable 400+ jobs are in the ‘₹1 crore and above’ range, he said.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

AI and ML are the two most talked about skills and will see huge demand in 2020 as companies start implementing them on a large scale to improve efficiency, say HR experts.

The year 2020 will be a pivotal year in AI-related employment dynamics, according to research firm Gartner, Inc, as AI will become a positive job motivator. In a recent survey, it is estimated that Machine Learning and AI alone have at least 1.4 million open jobs at the moment. To fill the gap, training in Data Science or Machine Learning and AI is the best way to give the professional journey a leg up, say Aditya Malik, CEO and MD of TalentEdge.

Read also: AI to help influence more than half of online advertisements by 2024

AI jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree or higher in computer science, engineering, or IT and experience with multiple programming languages, including Java, C, Python, R, JavaScript and SQL. According to the AI talent report, the number of AI-related jobs has increased by 119 per cent. Industries such as manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, finance, agriculture, retail and customer service will receive growing business value from AI, he said.

Agreeing with Malik on AI, Marco Valsecchi, Country Manager & Managing Director, Adecco India, said that a combined impetus, stemming from massive global demand and mounting local demand, is incentivising the IT industry, particularly large IT players and tech start-ups, to invest heavily in the diverse applications of AI.

ML is quickly changing mundane computing power into skilled (virtual) assistants that can replace and automate manual interactions/transactions and replace human capital to maximise operations for technology companies, banking, media and entertainment, he said.


Manmeet Singh, President at Experis IT, ManpowerGroup India, said that demand for talent with new skill sets is reshaping the IT job market, which is now gradually aligning with the megatrends of evolving technology. But a huge talent shortage can be expected with around 2 lakh job openings, including in AI, expected by the year 2021.

Supaul Chanda, Business Head - Teamlease Digital, Teamlease Services, said that jobs in demand in 2020 in areas like AI and ML are likely to increase by 20-25 per cent from 2019.

The demand for IT skills in 2020 would majorly resonate with what the ask in 2019 has been: like AI, ML and combination skills sets. This reflects the shift across the IT industry and most products not compatible with the changes would likely diminish in popularity, he said.


Malik of TalentEdge sees blockchain as being quite popular in 2020. Blockchain is becoming one of the most thriving skills in the IT job market. Now, industries such as transportation, logistics, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, digital payments and gaming are making blockchain an integral part of their business.

The blockchain talent pool in India leads by a margin of 40 per cent, compared with Australia, China, Singapore, and Japan, the five countries with a significantly large blockchain talent pool. Demand has grown by 115 per cent between 2016 and 2017 and the industry is expected to reach $7.7 billion in 2022, which is indicative of even more jobs, he said.

Big Data analytics

The tremendous increase in data has given birth to data science, which has been further divided into machine learning, artificial intelligence and deep learning. According to IBM, an increase by 364,000 to 2,720,000 openings will be generated in the year 2020. This demand will grow further by an astonishing 700,000 openings. The demand for data scientists will rise by 28 per cent by 2020 alone, said Malik.

Valsecchi said that owing to the sheer population demographics in India, there is a large amount of unstructured data that data analytics systems can convert into compatible structured data. The future of data analytics extends to unstructured data like imagery, audio/video and other multimedia formats.

Cyber Security

With cyber-attacks becoming more frequent and vicious, the demand for cybersecurity professionals has surged in both the private and public sector. In addition, with increased adoption of cloud computing and IoT, cyber security professionals are in high demand, said Valsecchi.

According to Malik, the cybersecurity industry is flooded with opportunities to earn great amounts while being instrumental to the safety of the world. According to a recent workforce development survey, 59 per cent of organisations have vacant cybersecurity positions, suggesting a shortfall of 1.5 million by 2020 globally. This has led to demand for beginner level roles, to C-suite executives in cybersecurity.

Some of the popular roles that are picking up in cybersecurity are Cybersecurity analyst, Cybersecurity Manager, Security Architect and Chief information security officer, he added.


Implementation of robotic systems for diverse applications range from retail distribution and fulfilment centres, to custom-built collaborative robots at the workplace, to personalised home and assistive robots, to advanced high-end industrial robots. The possibilities are endless, said Valsecchi.

While the above skills are in the premium list, other skills for Amazon Web Services, DevOps, Fullstack, S4 Hana and mobility will be trending and in demand in the year 2020, feel HR experts.

With companies looking for experienced candidates to work in these emerging technologies by offering an annual salary as high as ₹25 lakh, depending upon the number of years of experience, it is time Pramod makes his move.

Published on November 07, 2019

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like