Solving the AI Talent Shortage

Lizzie Ottenstein

As AI disrupts industries, companies are harnessing its unique abilities to gain a competitive edge. As reported by KPMG, many organizations have ramped up their AI investments to the extent that executives are concerned about things moving too quickly.

There is a problem: AI demand outweighs supply. 

According to a recent study, 93% of organizations in the US and UK consider AI a priority and have projects planned or underway, but more than half don’t have the internal AI talent to execute (AI Skills Gap study). In 2019, Gartner reported that 54% of CIOs see the AI skills gap as the greatest challenge to their organization. A 2021 study found that 18% said their organization is just beginning to understand the importance of high quality data to AI solutions (O’Reilly’s 2021 AI Adoption in the Enterprise report). 

It’s clear companies are struggling to realize their AI aspirations. How can they meet the demand and gain the competitive advantage they’re after? 

Closing the gap from within 

There are a number of things companies should keep in mind as they invest in AI, including retraining and upskilling existing employees (and in doing so, boosting retention). These individuals might have backgrounds in economics, mathematics, computer science or statistics and possess strategic thinking and problem solving skills. Proclivity for understanding and analyzing big data sets is a plus. 

Understanding the basics

Building an employee wide understanding of AI basics is key, in addition to data governance, ethics and security. Companies can hold workshops, distribute guides or tutorials from Google and offer microdegrees such as Fusemachines’. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are another option, as they allow employees to learn on their own time from world experts in a specialized, modular format, while companies only spend on what moves the needle.

Tools and data 

Organizations also need budget and access to the right technologies and tools. The right type and size of data is essential, and teams must be aligned on how to use this data to implement AI requiring executive support and oversight to follow through.

Closing the gap looking outward 

Some companies might want to recruit talent from other companies or top universities and invest in coding, programming and software development. They should look to bring on individuals with data visualization and analytics skills and advanced degrees in related fields. 

What does the future look like? 

This urgency to scale AI talent comes not only from business competition but also in the context of national security priorities and an incentive to develop talent to enable legislative action. The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, among others from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, are committed to growing and nurturing the domestic AI workforce with current efforts underway. 

Professionals in all fields can learn career shaping, essential skills remotely and with the assistance of the abundance of available online resources. As AI continues to take hold, institutions will have to make more strategic investments and choices to develop and nurture highly qualified AI talent. We look forward to guiding the way and helping to fill the gap. 

 

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