Udemy reports surge in demand for AI, IT and leadership training

As workers continue to navigate an evolving workplace environment, they’re looking for skills and learning opportunities in areas such as AI, IT and leadership, according to a Feb. 22 report from Udemy.

While demand has increased for tech categories such as generative AI, there’s also interest in soft skills that AI can’t replicate, such as active listening.

“2023 was a year where trends around generative AI (gen AI), hybrid work, building inclusive global workplaces and macroeconomic uncertainty drove the consistent need to upskill across both technological and leadership capabilities,” Greg Brown, president and CEO at Udemy, said in a statement.

“Workers today need tech skills as much as they need soft, or power skills,” he said. “Our Q4 Workplace Learning Index highlights how professionals are responding to, and meeting these demands, with surging interest in skills like chatbot development, listening, and customer service.”

Based on activity data from nearly 16,000 Udemy Business customers worldwide, demand for generative AI skills continues to surge, though there appears to be an evolution in how workers are using it. With growth in LangChain (109%) and chatbot development skills (56%), workers are shifting from trying to understand what generative AI is to learning how to apply it at work, Udemy said.

By the final quarter of 2023, 3.2 million learners had enrolled in more than 1,700 generative AI courses on the Udemy platform, according to the report. ChatGPT was the fastest-growing skill in 2023, with a surge of 4,419%. In addition, workers learned how to build their own AI models with their own data, rather than only rely on external chatbots.

Beyond that, workers seemed eager to build on their “human” or “soft” skills as they continue to work with colleagues in hybrid settings. Globally, courses in active listening skills grew by 52%, customer service skills increased by 51%, and work-life balance skills increased by 42%.

As interest continues to grow around AI, employers are willing to pay a premium for workers with relevant skills, according to an Amazon Web Services survey. While 73% of employers said hiring workers with AI skills is a priority, most say they’re struggling to find qualified candidates.

Although workers have voiced optimism about generative AI at work, most say they don’t have the skills to “effectively and safely” use the tools, according to a Salesforce report. To do so, they expect employers to provide training to fill the gap.

In fact, learning and development initiatives could help ease skill threat concerns among workers, particularly among software developers, according to a Pluralsight report. Training could also help with equity issues and fears that workers’ competencies will become obsolete due to AI-assisted tools.