3 Ways to Close the AI Skills Gap

28 February 2023 | Eleanor Lightbody

AI is no longer a thing of imagination, books or film scripts – it is playing a pivotal role in both our professional and personal lives. Yet companies across Europe are facing a shortage of workers with proper skills training to adequately develop and support this rapidly developing technology. Indeed, only 27% of businesses leaders believe their non-technical workforce possess the skills necessary to take advantage of AI.

The rollout of AI across sectors without an adequately trained workforce has the potential to stifle innovation and limit an organisation’s ability to leverage the technology in the most effective way possible. The UK in particular is well-placed to take advantage of the shift towards AI job creation. We are home to 3 of the top 10 research universities in the world, and we host some of the most innovative institutions in the world like Oxford and Cambridge. Supplying emerging companies with the right talent could mean unbridled growth for the UK economy – something the country desperately needs right now.

So, what can be done to shrink the skills gap and ensure that the current and incoming workforce is suitably prepared to work alongside AI?

1. Normalisation of AI: Familiarity with technology begins with its socialisation, namely by gaining an understanding of what AI actually is. This starts with understanding the basics of concepts that underpin AI, such as probability and risk. This AI-savviness will be essential when we look to a future in which the majority of the workforce will likely work with it in the context of their day-to-day jobs, whether that’s healthcare, cybersecurity or law.

2. Training for the Future: Reskilling is an important method of futureproofing workforces already in technical fields, such as software development, data science and engineering. Offering staff the opportunity to upskill not only fosters an environment of continued learning, but also equips team members with the skills they need to ensure their business remains competitive in the face of rapid digital transformation.

3. Supporting Innovation through Education: Increasing capacity for maths, engineering and technical education in schools will further help to establish strong fundamentals that can foster an interest and familiarity with technologies like AI. Company-sponsored AI innovation hubs and labs strategically located near universities also provide an opportunity for organisations to tap into emerging talent and provide more specialised training while they are still in university or have recently graduated.

In spite of the current skills gap, the UK is in a unique position to take on a key role in preparing the workforce to work alongside this next-generation technology. We must close the AI skills gap with training, reskilling, and early AI education to prepare future generations to take on the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.