Sri Lanka IT industry, universities in tie-up to train data scientists
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s information technology industry is working with universities produce graduates in previously unavailable subjects like data science required in its quest to ramp up annual exports to five billion dollars, an official said.
Jeevan Gnanam, chairman of Sri Lanka Association for Software and Services Companies (SLASSCOM), said the country need to re-assess its education system as data science skills, required by the rapidly evolving IT industry, had not been taught in universities.
“SLASSCOM has had to go to universities like Colombo University and come up with programs aimed at producing data science graduates,” he told an economic forum in Colombo organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
“We are working with universities trying to build capacity,” said Gnanam, who is also co-founder of Hatch, a start-up incubation and acceleration firm.
The IT industry is giving priority to data science and artificial intelligence as it seeks to diversify its products and services to quickly increase export earnings despite facing shortages of skilled people.
The IT industry now earns $1.2 billion in exports and has a 28 percent compounded average growth rate.
It needs to go from employing about 7000 IT graduates to employing 16,000 people.
“Traditionally the IT industry was focussed on software development and finance and accounting,” Gnanam said. “We’re adding data science and AI.”
SLASSCOM said in a statement it had launched a joint program with University of Colombo for Data Science and AI.
It is offered by the newly formed Center for Data Science, Department of Statistics, University of Colombo.
The course fee of this program is subsidized through the National Export Strategy (NES) initiatives through the Export Development Board (EDB) and Sri Lanka Association for Software and Services Companies (SLASSCOM).
“Currently Sri Lanka’s IT Exports are estimated to be over US$1.2 billion and is the fifth-largest export earner offering Software/Product Development and Business Process Management (BPM) services,” the statement said.
“The industry is growing rapidly with the potential to reach US$ 5 billion by 2022 with a workforce of 200,000 employees.”
Technological advancements have created new career opportunities for Data Scientists, for those with skills in statistical data analytics, big data analytics, computer programming and a passion to extract information from data, SLASSCOM said.
“Data Scientists are very much in demand around the globe and has increasing career prospects in Sri Lanka as well.
“However, there is a considerable shortage in Data Scientists in Sri Lanka which has hindered the expansion of data analytics industry. This is mainly due to the lack of combined knowledge in Statistics, Computer Science, Mathematics and the knowledge of the industry domain.”
(COLOMBO, 18 September, 2018)