Science graduates trump engineers as data analytics gains currency


With
the rise of analytics and big data, demand for science especially from
streams such as Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Statistics and
economics graduates is booming.

Be it IT services
companies or Big Four consultancies providing such services, plain
vanilla science graduates and economics students are being preferred
over engineers for their number crunching abilities for analytics roles.

According to IT staffing
firm Teamlease, fresher level salaries for economics or statistics
graduates range from Rs 4-7 lakh per year, compared with Rs 3.5 lakh for
engineering graduates for analytics jobs. At the middle level, pay
cheques range from Rs 12-15 lakh per year.

"We are seeing more
BSc graduates being preferred for data analytics roles because they have
those required skills. Hiring is more off-campus than on campus," said
Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice-president at industry body Nasscom.

An
internal survey by Nasscom last year revealed that, excluding BPOs,
about 5-6% of the industry headcount was from non-engineering fields.
"And that percentage is growing," said Gupta.

Among the top IT firms, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro
run programmes exclusively to hire and train BSc and MSc graduates. The
rising demand for data professionals can be gauged by the fact that
over 1,00,000 new positions for data analysts and researchers are
expected to be created by next year, according to Alka Dhingra,
assistant general manager at Teamlease.

The demand for such
graduates is driven by the pace at which big data and analytics is
booming. Research firm IDC recently forecast that the global big data
technology and services market will grow at a 26.4% compound annual
growth rate to $41.5 billion through 2018, or about six times the growth
rate of the overall information technology market.

While BSc
candidates are preferred for more entry-level jobs, the middle and
higher level hires working in the field are increasingly coming from
statistics and economics backgrounds.

The industry is looking at "somebody who understands data and
technology," said Sudipta Ghosh, PwC's India data and analytics partner.
In the past, consultancies like PwC would hire engineers, MBAs or
chartered accountants for such roles, but now they are increasingly
looking to hire people from sciences backgrounds with strong data
interpretation skills.

People working as analysts also say demand has risen. "I am constantly
being headhunted (in the UK, and) also internationally. I've heard that
it's quite the same in India," said Veronica (name changed), a Bsc
Statistics at St Xaviers College, Mumbai who then studied at the London
School of Economics and now works as an insight manager at a global
analytics company and is based in London.

"If
education was more flexible in India, I'd have studied biology and
maths to use stats in medical/health analytics," she explained.What's even more interesting is that companies are also looking at BSc
graduates for roles such as infrastructure management, squeezing out the
engineering freshers who typically held these roles. At this level, the
BSc hires are cheaper, and get paid in the Rs 1.8-2 lakh range.

"The industry is moving to more skill-based hiring, rather than just engineers for everything," said Nasscom's
Gupta. Another reason why science graduates are preferred is because
they possess the "right mindset for learning on the job skills, they
don't drop out as often, are not finicky about what location they get,"
said an industry source.