As AI skill demands rise, employers must figure out what they actually need: report

As demands for artificial intelligence skills rise, employers need to craft a plan to identify which skills their organizations actually need, according to a June 6 report from Info-Tech Research Group.

AI skill sets are not only limited to prowess with the tools themselves, but also critical thinking and problem solving — soft skills that enable broader competencies, Info-Tech said

Info-Tech outlined three steps IT leaders can use to identify their path ahead. First, employers need to define the AI competencies they need to reach business goals. “Competencies encompass the collection of knowledge, skills, and attributes required to perform a job well,” Info-Tech said in a statement.

Then, an employer needs to gather an understanding of what proficiencies its workforce has and what gaps are actually present. Leaders may need to call upon outside subject matter experts as well as internal business leaders to evaluate what is needed.

Finally, an employer must make a plan to address that skills gap, be it through internal or external training courses, on-the-job training, mentoring or other typical upskilling programs.

Other experts previously told HR Dive that employers need to be direct in addressing fears that surround AI, such as whether the tools will take their jobs. Employers may need to start by making workers aware of AI and the opportunities it could offer — and be prepared to redesign jobs that might be replaced by automated tools.

“AI integration is not just about adopting cutting-edge technologies; it’s about strategically aligning the workforce with technological advancements,” Heather Leier-Murray, research director at Info-Tech Research Group, said in a statement.

Notably, the Info-Tech report addresses that some employers may opt to hire outside talent to fill some gaps, including through contract work. But this “build vs. buy” conundrum may be too heavily balanced toward the “buy” side of the equation, a report from The Adecco Group posited earlier this year. The skills gap is especially fierce for a variety of digital skills, such as data literacy and AI management, the report said.

“Companies must do more to reskill and redeploy teams to make the most of this technological leap and avoid unnecessary upheaval,” Adecco’s CEO said in a statement at the time. “Buying your way out of disruption should not be the only approach companies take.”