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Up-Skill: The Rise of AI and Skill Gaps in the Job Market

Tue, 09 January, 2024

Even amid massive layoffs, we’re facing a critical shortage of skilled workers in many industries—e.g. high-tech, healthcare, construction, hospitality and others—that’s outpacing educational institutions’ training ability.

Most organisations are fully invested in AI, but more than half don’t have the required in-house skilled talent to execute their strategy. The AI Skills Gap, found that 93% of US and UK organisations consider AI to be a business priority and have projects planned or already in production. However, more than half of them (51%) acknowledge that they don’t have the right mix of skilled AI talent in-house to bring their strategies to life. Indeed, a lack of skilled talent was cited as the number one barrier to progressing their AI initiatives, followed by lack of budget, lack of access to the right technology, and lack of access to useful data.

Organisations like Amazon, Ericsson and PwC are heavily investing in upskilling and reskilling initiatives to build employees’ AI capabilities. Amazon’s ‘Machine Learning University’ equips its employees (no matter their background) to build machine learning skills - and they’ve opened it up to anyone, no matter where they work or live.

The specific sectors that are identified to be particularly influenced by the integration of AI technologies at the moment are; finance (where AI is used for fraud detection), algorithmic trading, risk management, customer service chatbots, and credit scoring, as well as manufacturing processes, where AI is optimising production workflows, predictive maintenance, quality control, and the implementation of smart factories. Retail leverages AI for personalised recommendations, demand forecasting, inventory management, chatbots for customer service, and cashier-less stores. Marketing and advertising, uses AI to enhance targeted advertising, customer segmentation, content optimisation, and marketing campaign analytics. Entertainment uses AI for content recommendation, virtual reality experiences, video game development, and the creation of AI-generated music and art.

The problem is, advances in AI are being slowed by a global shortage of workers with skills and experience in areas such as deep learning, natural language processing and robotic process automation. The talent pool for such disciplines is limited and therefore in high demand– so much so that some companies encounter inter-departmental jostling for software programmers and IT developers who have the prized expertise.

It’s challenging to find a person who has the appropriate hard skills and technical know-how as well as the soft skills such as being “highly collaborative” that would make them successful in a high-level AI position that can take their tech skills and apply them to business problems. Recent graduates typically don’t have the business acumen and leadership experience that is required to manage AI implementation throughout an organisation. As AI matures in organisations, it will be imperative that diverse personnel and thinking is integrated.

People are essential to the success of any digital transformation project. AI can automate much of the mundane administrative work and repetitive tasks that employees used to spend hours on – enabling them to focus on more creative, analytical and strategic work that can give their organisation a competitive edge.

You can find out more about Up-Skill project on the dedicated website, HERE, and also follow the project LinkedIn channel, HERE.


This work was funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee 101070666

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