Nearly 7 in 10 tech job seekers and tech employees believe that potential recruits lack the skills necessary for a career in AI.

This is according to a new IBM study, which highlights that the AI skills shortage could undermine digital innovation and suppress economic activity.

UK tech employees are given fewer training opportunities compared to their colleagues in Spain and Germany.

The research, which surveyed employees, recruiters and applicants within tech in Germany, Spain and the UK, found that the sector is struggling to find employees with adequate AI knowledge or experience.

“It’s clear that the lack of skills and training could have a massive impact at a time of increasing global competition,” says Global Technical Lead for Government, IBM Technology, Sharon Moore MBE.

Problem solving is considered the most critical soft skill needed for tech roles, among all survey participants (up to 37%). However, around a quarter of tech recruiters (23%) have difficulty finding applicants with this aptitude along with shortfalls in critical and strategic thinking.

 

 

Developing AI Skills 

“The growing importance of AI across so many industries should provide ample scope for tech sector growth. Unfortunately, a shortage of AI skills means that these opportunities can be hard to seize,” Ms Moore says.

Along with soft skills, 40 percent of tech job seekers and employees noted that software engineering and knowledge of programming languages are the most important technical capabilities for the AI/tech workforce to have.

“There’s a clear and disadvantageous gap in the education syllabus so for now in-house training from big tech companies, like IBM, needs to be prioritised,” adds Ms Moore.

“The report showed that offering education and skills training is seen as a top priority for companies looking to improve AI recruitment in the future,” says Ms Moore.

Despite some companies working towards this goal, the survey reveals that there’s still room for improvement. Tech employees in Spain and Germany (42%) are given training opportunities on topics including programming languages, data engineering/analysis and software engineering. The UK falls behind, though.

Just 32 percent of staff receive such training, with 27 percent specifically focusing on software engineering, a key AI-related skill.

 

What does the future look like?

“AI is changing the world by automating decisions, predicting outcomes and optimising 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,” Moore said.

“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.”