If technology like ChatGPT replaces software engineers, then India, which has more than 5 million programmers, will be hit the hardest.
While that possibility is pretty remote, someone like Palash Hade can also lose sleep at night. The rookie engineer from central India expects fewer software jobs and more competition in the country of 1.4 billion people.
Hade enrolled in the online Data Science and Analytics degree program at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, hoping it would help him stand out in the competitive job market.
Not so long ago, outsourcing companies in India were starving for talent and focused on recruiting new people, regardless of their background in chemistry or mining, as long as they could fit in with in-house coding exercises. These outsourcing firms build software systems for global clients such as Wall Street banks, Silicon Valley tech giants and the world’s largest airlines and retailers.
N. Ganapathy Subramaniam, chief operating officer of Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., India’s (and Asia’s) largest outsourcing firm, said the company has offered 46,000 campus recruiting positions this year. In recent conversations, he says, every client is talking about generative AI and ChatGPT.
CP Gurnani, CEO of Tech Mahindra, a forty-year veteran of India’s IT services industry, says change is coming fast thanks to advanced artificial intelligence. Speaking last week at IIT Hyderabad, he found students very concerned. His advice: Be prepared.
For Gurnani, the question is not whether AI will replace existing jobs, but how new technologies will accelerate the creation of new jobs and opportunities while displacing old roles.
Y Narahari, a programming professor at India’s top-ranked Indian Institute of Technology, offers another perspective. He said his students are not worried about the emergence of AI, because they may design new systems, compete with GPT models, or be recruited by OpenAI.
But tens of thousands of engineers, not from top schools, have reason to worry that a decline in routine programming jobs is coming.
Shraddha Kulkarni, a 21-year-old engineering student in Bangalore, has been actively using ChatGPT. Programming would not be possible without the aid of AI, the student said. She believes that within five years, many entry-level programming jobs could disappear.
In this year’s campus recruiting drive, Kulkarni was selected by the technology arm of a global company, which she declined to name. For next year’s graduates, the outlook remains to be seen, she said.
Anxiety also abounds on Reddit and Quora, with developers complaining of spending hundreds of hours poring over confusing documentation and obscure blogs to build their skills. They are now well aware that an AI-based programming competitor has emerged.