From Government Computing

Microsoft warns that the UK is facing an AI skills gap.

The UK is having a shortage of artificial intelligence (AI) skills that will make it difficult for companies to compete with their counterparts in other countries, found a report called AI Skills in the UK from Microsoft.

As per the report, UK businesses are using less AI compared to firms overseas, and when they do employ the technology, it seems to be less advanced.

The AI Skills in the UK report found that British organisations are also less probable, at 15%, to be classed as “AI pros” compared to the global average of 23%. Also, it revealed that the UK has a higher rate of failure in using AI than the global average, which has been measured by the number of projects having zero commercial value, which comes to 29% versus 19%.

The report found that only over half of UK employees, at 52%, are using AI to make their work faster and smarter.

Furthermore, the AI Skills in the UK report disclosed that 35% of UK business leaders think that there will be an AI skills gap in the coming two years, while 28% opine that the country is already facing the gap, which is in comparison to the global average of 24%.

According to Microsoft, the findings of its report are worrying for the UK as the world begins to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. This is because British companies are expected to lag behind their counterparts from Europe, the Americas, and Australia owing to a lack of AI skills.

Microsoft UK chief learning officer Simon Lambert 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.”

The AI Skills in the UK report delved into the UK-specific data from a worldwide AI skills study headed by Microsoft EMEA. The survey included the views of over 12,000 people across 20 countries, including Germany, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Australia, South Africa, the US, and Canada.

The report focused on AI capabilities and levels of adoption across the world to gauge the progress made by organisations, and the challenges faced by them in preparing their employees for an AI-driven world.