Niche IT skills com­mand 50-100% premium in salaries


Dig­i­tal skills are to 2019 what com­puter engi­neer­ing skills were 10-15 years back. In­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies are now ready to shell out sig­nif­i­cantly higher to ac­quire tal­ent with nice skills.

With ev­ery firm try­ing to in­crease their in­come from dig­i­tal ser­vices and try­ing to es­tab­lish a strong dig­i­tal ca­pa­bil­ity, the race to ac­quire peo­ple trained in skills such as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI), big data and an­a­lyt­ics, ma­chine learn­ing, and even ad­vanced user ex­pe­ri­ence, has grown in­tense.

“The rapid in­crease in pay pack­ages to those with such skills can be seen across both fresh­ers and ex­pe­ri­enced em­ploy­ees. Ear­lier, com­pa­nies paid a premium when they hired a skilled lat­eral but, at the fresher level, the salary of­fer­ings were pretty uni­form. Now, that has changed as they seek to hire and re­tain premium tal­ent,” said Kris Lak­sh­mikanth, founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of The Head Hun­ters In­dia.

Es­pe­cially for staff hav­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of at least three years, com­pa­nies are in­vest­ing in train­ing them in spe­cialised do­mains and tech­nolo­gies, he added. This makes it all the more im­por­tant for them to of­fer stronger in­cen­tives for re­ten­tion.

Con­se­quently, over the past year, there has been al­most 50 per cent hike in the salaries of such tal­ent. This has also been re­flected in the num­bers re­ported by the IT ma­jors in the on­go­ing fi­nan­cial year when the em­ployee costs have in­creased uni­formly de­spite the hir­ing num­bers been largely er­ratic.

“His­tor­i­cally, the de­mand for such tal­ent was cen­tric to some of the early adopters like BFSI (bank­ing, fi­nan­cial ser­vices and in­sur­ance), IT and e-com­merce. How­ever, there is a wide­spread adop­tion by other in­dus­tries such as au­to­mo­bile, man­u­fac­tur­ing, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, life sciences, lo­gis­tics and me­dia, among oth­ers,” said Karan Mad­hok, man­ager, Michael Page In­dia.

Given there is short­age of high­cal­i­bre can­di­dates vis-à-vis de­mand, com­pa­nies are will­ing to pay a premium along with other ben­e­fits and long-term in­cen­tives in or­der to re­tain tal­ent, lead­ing to an in­crease in the over­all com­pen­sa­tion lev­els, Mad­hok said.

Ac­cord­ing to Michael Page’s 2019 Salary In­dex, skills in dig­i­tal an­a­lyt­ics and data sciences can fetch em­ploy­ees a hike be­tween ~18 lakh and ~1.55 crore (per an­num) de­pend­ing on their ex­pe­ri­ence. There is a high de­mand for pro­fes­sion­als with ex­per­tise in niche ar­eas such as com­puter vi­sion, nat­u­ral lan­guage pro­cess­ing and speech an­a­lyt­ics. Com­pa­nies are show­ing a pref­er­ence for pro­fes­sion­als with strong hand­son ex­pe­ri­ence, even at lead­er­ship lev­els, across in­dus­tries.

Global com­pa­nies, e-com­merce plat­forms and soft­ware prod­uct firms are more likely to pay such pre­mi­ums.

On the other hand, tra­di­tional tech­nol­ogy roles of project man­agers, in­fra­struc­ture and ap­pli­ca­tion man­agers and de­vel­op­ers can only com­mand ~20 lakh to ~70 lakh salary (per an­num), found the re­port.

“The av­er­age salary in­crease for a generic skill is be­tween 10 per cent and 20 per cent. But for niche skills, peo­ple re­ceive hikes up­wards of 50 per cent,” said Alka Dhin­gra, gen­eral man­ager, TeamLease Ser­vices. Be­sides, she said, many com­pa­nies have now dis­cov­ered that they al­ready have the peo­ple they need, but are merely us­ing them in an in­ef­fec­tive way.

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