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After a year of AI driving business performance, 9 in 10 executives still don’t understand their teams’ AI skills and proficiencies

by | Dec 13, 2023 | Public Relations

Do you remember the days when everybody in PR (and in almost every other field) had to figure out how to use a computer to get their jobs done? It was a long and messy endeavor, with lots of trial and error, and while some (younger) folks developed quick mastery, some (veterans) just couldn’t make it work until later—and by that time, they had fallen helplessly behind the pack. That’s the last time such a widespread skills necessity emerged. And now we have another one.

A new research study, AI Skills Report: The Gap Between AI Investments and Worker Readiness, from technology workforce development firm Pluralsight, explores the AI landscape and its impact on talent by examining the perspectives of executives and IT practitioners. The research is based on a survey of 1,200 decision-makers and practitioners working in technology, IT, cloud, cybersecurity and related fields.

After a year of AI driving performance and productivity, 9 in 10 executives still don’t understand their teams' AI skills and proficiencies

“AI is transforming the way that business is done, but many companies are behind the curve when it comes to preparing and training their employees for AI because they don’t understand the skills that are needed to deal with AI effectively,” said Aaron Skonnard, CEO and co-founder of Pluralsight, in a news release. “This all points to the critical need for companies to take a more active role in developing the skills of their current workforce.” 

Key findings in the report include:   

Executive investments in AI outpace employee proficiency  

The vast majority (92 percent) of participants say that their organization has accelerated AI initiatives in the last 12 months. However, according to the survey, 80 percent of executives and 72 percent of IT practitioners agree that their organizations often invest in new technology without considering the training employees need to use it. Furthermore, 90 percent of surveyed executives admitted that they don’t completely understand their teams’ AI skill level and proficiency.

These findings point to the need for organizations to identify where to focus their skills development programs and which resources they need to maximize investments in new technologies. Businesses also need to proactively assess the technical fluency of their workforce to identify the critical skills that their team members need to develop.  

The need to build AI literacy across organizations   

The findings reveal that the AI skills gap doesn’t only apply to advanced technical skills. More than half of IT practitioners (53 percent) think they’re at least somewhat at risk of being replaced by AI. Leaders need to assuage these fears and build AI literacy across their organizations to close skills gaps at all levels. 

After a year of AI driving performance and productivity, 9 in 10 executives still don’t understand their teams' AI skills and proficiencies

Nearly three in four IT practitioners worry that the skills they use in their daily roles will become obsolete quickly because of AI. These concerns appear to be warranted as 35 percent of executives say they are investing in AI technology and tools to eliminate unnecessary positions. 

IT professionals know they’ll need to learn AI skills to secure their careers as nearly all of them (96 percent) indicated that staying up to date with AI skills is the best way to ensure their job security in a competitive market. To remain relevant, IT practitioners are looking for ways to practice new AI skills in their roles, but they must be given the chance to develop those skills.  

Establishing effective AI upskilling programs remains a challenge   

Although 81 percent of technologists said they are confident about integrating AI into their roles, only 12 percent of those same technologists feel they have significant experience working with AI. This finding is particularly noteworthy when combined with the fact that an overwhelming majority of executives (95 percent) and IT professionals (94 percent) agree that AI initiatives will fail in the absence of skilled teams that can effectively use and work with these tools. 

After a year of AI driving performance and productivity, 9 in 10 executives still don’t understand their teams' AI skills and proficiencies

The report also revealed that organizations often encounter barriers that prevent them from implementing successful AI upskilling programs. The most common challenges they face are finding the right training (42 percent), ensuring the training is the right fit for the AI tool (49 percent), and procuring a budget (48 percent). The findings also point to the importance of tracking the success of AI upskilling and building a culture of continuous learning by measuring the impact upskilling has on skill improvement and ROI. 

Download the full report here.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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