While there has been a lot of talk about the ‘Great Resignation’, a major contributing factor is the skills gap. Employees may be quitting in droves, but a central reason why employers are struggling to fill all their open vacancies is the skills gap.
There is a particular concern about discrepancy between the technical and digital skills that organizations require and the workforce’s competency to meet those needs. Salesforce found that only 34% of 23,000 global workers thought their employer was very prepared with the digital skills it will need over the next five years.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has already been transforming the business world – and it is set to continue to do so in the future – so IBM and Morning Consult decided to dig into how large the AI skills gap is, particularly in Europe. It did this by surveying more than 1,000 tech job seekers, over 600 tech employees, and above 300 tech recruiters in the UK, Spain, and Germany.
The report found that 28% of recruiters are struggling to find applicants with experience in deep learning, machine learning, and data engineering and analytics. 23% also had issues finding job seekers skilled in programming languages, while 23% were challenged to find software engineers.
These challenges were particularly acute in Germany – where 34% of recruiters said they struggled to find machine learning skills among applicants, compared to 23% in the UK and 28% in Spain.
This is a concern given that 40% of job seekers and employees said software engineering and knowledge of programmatic languages were the most important tech skills needed for AI jobs. 27% of recruiters greed for software engineering; this rose to 36% for programming languages.
But it is not just technical skills that are posing issues. 26% of tech recruiters, 35% of tech job seekers, and 37% of employees agreed that problem-solving was a major skill in AI jobs. But only 23% of recruiters could find candidates with problem-solving or critical thinking competencies.
How to solve the AI skills shortage
It is all good and well to lay out the problem, but organizations (and HR teams particularly) need to know how to resolve these recruitment challenges.
One major issue is with AI education. While 74% of recruiters are looking for AI bachelor’s degrees, just 15% of tech job seekers and 9% of tech employees have these qualifications.
A related problem is that there is not enough education to prepare students for success in the AI field – this is noted by 47% of job seekers, 55% of employees and 56% of recruiters. It is a particularly a problem in the UK and Spain.
IBM’s report notes that tech companies need to step up and upskill their workers in the space of AI. 78% of job seekers and 81% of employees agree.
Just over half of job seekers, employees and recruiters think the lack of official training at work is why workers are missing the skills they need to thrive in the AI sector.
Another issue is that where workplace AI training does exist, employees are not taking advantage of it. Just over a third of tech employees had taken advantage of programming language training, software engineering courses, or data engineering and analysis training at their current job. This declined to 21% for machine learning.
Ultimately, employers need to rethink their AI training programs. The 16% without any programs need to introduce some, and quickly. The remainder that have some offerings must think about how to ensure workers are taking advantage of them.
Do you need to introduce newer, more engaging platforms? Do you need to reduce workloads so people have time to learn?
Creating a culture of learning at an organization may be hard but doing nothing is not an option if you want to thrive in the future of work where AI will play a crucial role.
IBM’s global technical lead for government Sharon Moore commented: “AI is changing the world by automating decisions, predicting outcomes and optimizing employees’ time.
“Yet advances in AI are being slowed by the shortage of workers with skills and experience in areas the report has brought to light.
“With the right training, education and upskilling, we’ll be able to leverage AI to its full potential and as a result generate further value for companies and society.”