Scarce AI talent being wooed with perks and high salaries
The Global AI skills shortage is good news for AI specialists as nations and companies are battling over talented professionals.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning industries are expanding at a mind-blowing rate, rapidly pushing up the demand for skilled IT professionals all over the globe.
The supply, however, is drastically lagging behind. At the end of 2017 Chinese tech giant Tencent released a report stating there were just 300,000 AI researchers and practitioners worldwide, but the market demand was for millions of roles.
LinkedIn researchers supported the claim, saying that last year there was almost a 1000% growth in demand for machine learning engineers making it the number one most demanded role.
Shortage of skills in AI and machine learning is a world-wide problem. A global study by Capgemini revealed that 55% of organisations had acknowledged that not only was there a huge gap but it was widening as well. When seen from different geographies: 70 % of US companies acknowledged the skill gap, India — 64 %, UK — 57%, Germany — 55% , France 52%, and so on.
Even biggest and most prominent tech giants are complaining about the difficulty hiring AI engineers.
The demand has pushed salaries to absurd heights. The New York Times’ insight into AI industry reveals that sometimes people with just a few years of experience can expect base pay of between $300,000 and $500,000 a year, while the very best will collect millions. One independent AI lab told the publication that there were only 10,000 individuals worldwide with the right skills to spearhead serious new AI projects.
So, if you are a specialist in AI, it’s your time to be picky. You can choose a country you would like to live in, a company you want to work for, and negotiate a great pay package.
Here is the list of countries most desperate for AI and machine learning experts:
The USA is far above any other country in the world when it comes to AI and machine learning salaries. It’s true both for entry-level and senior position salaries.
US tech companies are prepared to spend over $1 billion by 2020 in the process of poaching AI talent from wherever they can get it. They are desperate to fill senior roles, which offer an average annual salary of $314,000, due in part to a global talent shortage.
Apple has already doubled its number of AI-skilled specialists since 2014 and keeps on looking for skills. Other tech giants are in the same perpetual hunt.
Career advisory platform Paysa has revealed that there are open roles at top companies with the following aggregate net salaries:
• Amazon: $227,769,001
• Google: $130,048,389
• Microsoft: $75,158,057
• Facebook: $38,636,827
• NVIDIA: $34,280,190
It’s obvious that the world tech leaders are in a fierce competition for the best talent and won’t hesitate to pay whatever it takes to recruit skilled specialists.
Other top recruiters in US are Intel, Rocket Fuel, General Electric, Cylance, Oculus VR, Booz Allen Hamilton, Huawei, Adobe, Accenture, iRobot, Magic Leap, Rethink Robotics, BAE Systems, HERE, IBM, Samsung, Lenovo, MoTek Technologies, Uber, PCO innovation, Rakuten Marketing, and Wells Fargo.
Additionally, the country is estimated to have 2,50,000 open data science jobs by 2024.
There are shortages of digital skills, especially AI and machine learning, in every country in Europe. In every major European tech centre – Berlin, London, Paris, Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Stockholm – there are jobs going begging for people with AI skills.
Last November Dispatches Europe published an article highlighting Europe’s lack of specialists in digital industries where Sweden took the top place in the “Shortage of Talent” list. According to the rank, Sweden had the most severe tech talent shortage among the world’s 33 highly developed economies.
The most demanding high-tech jobs in Europe are:
• Artificial intelligence and deep machine learning
• Cloud security/encryption
• Game developers
European countries are forced to recruit skilled specialists from outside the EU to fill the vacancies. EU member-countries are in strong competition not only with global leaders such as the USA, but with each other as well.
Sweden’s neighbour Finland calculates that they need about 9,000 software developers, with that number expected to rise to 15,000 by 2020 as the population ages and industry demand grows.
Along with the UK, Finland is the only EU country to adopt an AI strategy at government level, which means digital businesses have government support and legal framework to develop and implement innovations.
To battle the skill shortage, Finland’s digital game industry is aggressively recruiting digital experts from India, China, Russia and the United States.
By 2030, Germany could face a shortage of 3 million skilled workers, according to recent research by consulting firm Prognos AG, and a considerable number of them are IT professionals.
Tech companies in Germany aren’t worried about possible job losses caused by AI. If advances in artificial intelligence can make it possible to substitute even mid-level staff, as some technologists predict, companies will continue to need skilled workers to manage and service the new machinery.
Their main worry is that a skill shortage is the biggest obstacle on the way of developing and implementing AI and machine learning technology. Four out of five companies say the difficulty they have in finding skilled workers is preventing them from investing in innovation.
Since 2012, Germany has attracted more than 60,000 highly-skilled workers under the EU’s Blue Card program.
The country would need a much larger influx to compensate for the skilled workers shortage. However, it’s highly unlikely to be coming from the homegrown workforce in the nearest future. AI, machine learning and IT aren’t topping the list of most popular professions for young Germans, taking the fifths place far below the leading “car mechanic” and “office administration”.
Demand for AI skills in the UK has almost tripled over the last three years, according to the job website Indeed. Indeed compiled a study assessing various job posting since 2015. The study revealed a big increase in demand for AI and machine learning specialists across the country.
UK’s demand for AI skills has been growing much faster than that in the US, Canada and Australia. In 2018, the number of AI roles advertised in the UK was 1,300 out of every million – double the rate in Canada and 20% more than in the US.
“Britain’s reputation as a tech leader has made it a natural home for the booming AI sector, and the UK’s concentration of AI jobs has risen steadily – and now outstrips that in the other major English-speaking countries.”
Tara Sinclair, economist and senior fellow at Indeed.com
Indeed’s report points out that in the UK there are 6 times more advertised AI roles than there are candidates to fill them. Data scientists are among most demanded in AI industry as companies try to make use of the data they have been collecting for years.
AI and machine learning roles are offered at pay levels well above the average UK salary. According to IT Jobs Watch, advertised roles in AI offer an average of £60,000 a year with 10% top positions offering on average £105,500.
Just a quick search on Indeed reveals a huge amount of AI jobs advertised for a salary above £70.000. Some contracts are offered for as much as £700 a day.
However, most top positions are advertised for a “competitive salary” which means that there is a possibility of applying to different companies and choosing/negotiating the best offer.
The State Council of China announced in July 2017 that the country would lead the world in terms of AI theory, technology and application by 2030.
Indeed, China is actively investing in AI sector and implementing the technology. The latest buzz is facial-recognition eyewear for police officers that came out in February. Cameras mounted on sunglasses and linked to a police database will help officers track wanted criminals.
The global market consultancy Roland Berger estimates that AI will create 10 trillion yuan (£1.14 trillion) of added value in China by 2030 for sectors including internet, automotive, retailing, finance and medicine.
However, China is facing the same problem as other countries, albeit on a bigger scale: a shortage of around five million AI talents.
People with expertise in AI are in huge demand in China. Domestic job market is unable to fill the huge amount of advertised positions. Specialists with five years of experience available for employment are a rare commodity, so Chinese companies are looking for such people all over the world.
Baidu Inc, for example, launched a new round of overseas recruitment searching for talent in nine top universities in the US, to fill positions related to machine learning, data mining and computer vision algorithms.
Consequently, high demand has sent AI engineer salaries skyrocketing in China. IDG Capital’s 2017 Internet Unicorn Salary Report revealed that pay packages for top AI positions were 55% higher than average ICT industry employee salaries, 90% higher at intermediate positions, and 110% higher at junior positions.
Compensation at one of the nation’s largest startups can exceed $3 million.
Chinese companies are also looking for skilled specialists who can carry out academic research independently. The state actively encourages and supports academic researchers. Currently Chinese researchers are publishing more journal articles on deep learning than their US or European counterparts.
Nanjing University opened one of the first AI institutes in China this March, and is currently seeking AI researchers, offering a base annual salary of $60,000, a housing subsidy of close to $200,000, and over $300,000 in research funding as the starter package.
Canada is aspiring to take a leading position in AI development globally. The country is much focused on AI science and investing into developing a framework on ethics, policy and the legal implications of AI.
According to an Indeed Canada report, jobs in Canada requiring AI skills have grown by 1,069 percent since 2013.
Machine learning engineer, full stack developer, and DevOps engineer made up the top three most demanded positions.
In terms of pay, specialists with a bit of experience can expect between $70,000 to $90,000 a year. Advertised salaries rise to $130,000 and beyond for those with 5 and more years of experience.
The average salary for Artificial Intelligence related jobs is $85,978 per year or $44 per hour. This is around 2.6 times more than the median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $60,000 while most experienced specialists make up to $120,000 and over.
When it comes to senior roles, a quick search on Indeed Canada reveals that most top positions are advertised without set salaries, instead a “competitive” pay package is offered, which gives job seekers a chance to negotiate on their terms.
Companies that are actively hiring for AI skills in Canada are — Royal Bank of Canada, IBM, Scotiabank, KPMG, Amazon, LoyaltyOne, TD Bank, Kinaxis, Huawei and Capital One, among others.
A LinkedIn report on the Digital Workforce Future states that India is a testing ground for some of the most exciting applications of AI from farming to healthcare to recruitment.
As the country is heading towards Digital India, the IT industry on the whole will require 50% more workforce equipped with digital skills.
Already this year according to outsourcing and consulting group Kelly OCG India, the country would see a 60% rise in the demand for AI and ML professionals. Candidates with PhD degrees in AI- related technologies are especially sought-after (and rare).
India suffers an acute shortage of homegrown professionals with knowledge of UI/UX (user interface/user experience), artificial intelligence, machine learning. The ratio of the number of skilled professionals to jobs available in deep learning is 0.53 and for machine learning it’s 0.63.
The average salary of AI professionals in India rises up with the years of experiences: a 2-4 year experience commands a salary of Rs15-20 lacs per annum ($22,000 – 29,000), while for 4-8 years it is Rs20-50 lacs per annum ($29,000 – 73,000) and for 8-15 years it is Rs50 lacs to Rs 1 crore per annum ($73,000 – 147,000).
Most of the AI and machine learning development is spread across five cities: Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai/Pune belt and Delhi NCR region. The hiring industries are IT, ecommerce, BFSI, healthcare, retail and manufacturing.
Further reading: 10 Best Countries to Work Abroad for a Higher Income