Artificial intelligence. Human head outline with circuit board inside, AI

The UK faces an AI skills gap according to new research conducted by Microsoft.

The research, entitled AI Skills in the UK, could leave companies struggling to compete with rivals from across the world. The report also found that businesses in this country use less AI than firms overseas, and when they do it tends to be less advanced.

AI Skills in the UK looked at the UK-specific data from a global AI skills study led by Microsoft EMEA. The survey included the views of more than 12,000 people in 20 countries, including Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, the United States and Canada. It focused on AI capabilities and adoption levels around the world to understand the progress organisations are making, and the challenges they are facing in preparing their workforce for an AI-driven world.

Thirty-five per cent of UK business leaders believe there will be an AI skills gap in the next two years, while 28 per cent believe we’re already experiencing one (above the global average of 24 per cent).

The research also uncovered a concerning lack of AI re-skilling of the UK workforce to address this skills gap. Only 17 per cent of UK employees say they have been part of re-skilling efforts (far less than the global figure of 38 per cent). Additionally, only 32 per cent of UK employees feel their workplace is doing enough to prepare them for an AI-enabled future, compared to 68 per cent who do not.

Just over half of UK employees are using AI to work faster and smarter, compared to 69 per cent of employees globally.

Speaking about the findings, Simon Lambert, Chief Learning Officer for Microsoft UK, said, “The most successful organisations will be the ones that transform both technically and culturally, equipping their people with the skills and knowledge to become the best competitive asset they have.”

“Human ingenuity is what will make the difference – AI technology alone will not be enough.”

“At Microsoft, we’re on this journey just like everyone else, not least because the best learners make the best teachers.”

“The larger point though, is not to be intimidated by the technology.”

“Instead, get excited, develop your curiosity and let’s keep learning from one another.”

Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA at Skillsoft adds, “UK employers will have to address the growing digital skills gap within the workforce to ensure their business is able to fully leverage every digital transformation investment that’s made.”

“With technologies like AI and cloud becoming as commonplace as word processing or email in the workplace, firms will need to ensure employees can use such tools and aren’t apprehensive about using them.”

“The challenge for employers is to make sure that everyone, regardless of gender, age or location, shares in the spoils of new technology.”
“Instituting lifelong learning for employees that ensures, reskilling will prove the answer to tectonic shifts in the job market.”
“Giving workers the opportunity to learn new skills that will increase their ability to shift into new roles.”

WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.