The AI skills gap is prompting a widespread rethink on workforce upskilling

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A widening AI skills gap is prompting IT leaders to double down on efforts to improve staff training, according to new research from Skillsoft.

AI-related skills deficiencies are forcing management to ramp up investment in training to maximize their use of AI technologies, Skillsoft said. 

Two thirds of IT decision-makers reported they were dealing with skills gaps in their teams and the burden was comparable to the one they faced in 2022. This has prompted a rethink of staff training practices, the report found, with IT leaders' attitudes on the issue now changing. 

In 2022, 45% of IT professionals said management did not see a tangible benefit from training, whereas just 15% said the same in 2023, indicating skills development has become an imperative for business leaders.

AI and machine learning (ML) were ranked as the top focus area for 38% of IT decision-makers while 43% rated their teams’ AI and ML skills as ‘low’.

Almost a third (30%) of IT leaders reported they are having the most difficulty hiring staff qualified in AI and ML systems, with 23% ranking talent retention as their biggest challenge in 2023.

The AI skills gap is widening

Orla Daly, chief information officer at Skillsoft, said the sharpened focus on AI in recent months showcases the growing appetite among organizations to capitalize on the generative AI boom.

“Organizations are at a critical point where they need to be deliberate and proactive about building skills and capabilities – especially related to AI – or risk falling behind in the coming year,” she said. 

A recent survey from Deloitte revealed skills deficiencies in AI are top-three concerns for 31% of organizations, yet only 17% of respondents said they were making significant investments in worker training and development to address these deficiencies.

The limited supply of AI experts only exacerbates the problem, with only 22,000 AI specialists worldwide according to Deloitte. 

As a result, certifications pertaining to  these technologies are becoming increasingly valuable to businesses, with 97% of IT leaders stating certified staff adds value to their organization.

Consequently, upskilling current staff represents a vital, cost-effective avenue through which businesses can address their current skills shortages.

Staff value training but feel businesses are not capitalizing on its benefits

The report demonstrates that IT staff recognize the importance of training to their productivity, with 62% describing an improvement in the quality of their work after receiving training.


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Staff also reported a greater sense of engagement (47%) and better performance (45%) as a result of training. 

A considerable 82% of IT professionals said training is extremely or very important to their career and a lack of development was the key factor that drove respondents to switch jobs in 2022.

Skillsoft’s report also highlighted some remaining hurdles inhibiting skills development in IT businesses. 

Nearly half (40%) of IT leaders said their organization is not investing enough in professional development, with 80% describing their current training programs as not effective at developing the skills they need.

Solomon Klappholz
Staff Writer

Solomon Klappholz is a Staff Writer at ITPro. He has experience writing about the technologies that facilitate industrial manufacturing which led to him developing a particular interest in IT regulation, industrial infrastructure applications, and machine learning.