Microsoft report says U.K. has an AI skills gap in the workforce

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A new report from Microsoft suggests that the U.K. is facing an AI skills gap that could leave companies in the country struggling to fill job roles. The report, entitled AI Skills in the UK said that as a result of this skills shortage, U.K. firms are using less AI in their products and services than competitors abroad.

The new report is based on data from a study led by Microsoft EMEA. It includes information from 12,000 people in 20 countries including Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Brazil, South Africa, the United States, and Canada. 35% of business leaders in the U.K. said that they think there will be an AI skills gap in the next two years while 28% believe that we are already experiencing a gap.

Commenting on 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.”

Some of the most striking figures in the report show that just 17% of U.K. employees have been part of re-skilling efforts, this is much lower than the global figure which stands at 38%. The report found that U.K. companies do understand the need for AI to remain competitive but are still failing to put in the resources needed to make sure employees can use and build AI solutions effectively – some of the reasons given for this were a lack of budget and an unclear return on investment.

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