White House AI hiring push draws ‘unprecedented’ interest

Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. federal government’s hiring push aimed at AI pros has drawn ‘unprecedented’ levels of interest, with thousands applying for roles across agencies, according to a Monday report directed to the President.
  • The AI and Tech Talent Task Force leading the efforts said in the month after the Biden Administration’s AI-focused executive order, the tech talent programs saw an average increase of 288% in AI job applications compared to previous periods. 
  • Agencies hired more than 150 individuals in AI and AI-enabled roles since the October rollout of the executive order to the end of March, with 15 agencies hiring at least one AI professional. Through the end of 2025, agencies plan to hire more than 500 additional AI workers. 

Dive Insight:

The U.S. government’s AI hiring efforts are navigating an already tight supply of specialized talent. It’s a puzzle enterprise leaders are also trying to solve.

But bridging the skills gap still requires a holistic approach. 

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management plans to review executive core qualifications for government leadership roles to incorporate data and AI literacy into its fabric, according to the report. 

“Ensuring the Federal Government uses AI in a safe and trustworthy manner requires not only dedicated AI talent, but also a workforce that understands how to responsibly use AI to best achieve their goals,” the AI and Tech Talent Task Force said in its report to the President. 

Currently, around 50% of federal employees do not believe their organization has the right staff to build, manage or procure AI, according to a pulse survey conducted by the task force. Around half of those surveyed in the government said there wasn’t a clear process for requesting the necessary resources. 

As part of the AI upskilling plan, the federal government’s workforce will gain access to training sessions that cover general know-how, leadership, procurement, technical knowledge and hiring. Several agencies also established a pilot program to train 500 new researchers by 2025. 

The pressure to increase AI capacity spans industries. 

More than two-thirds of tech leaders are investing in AI engineers, data scientists and cybersecurity experts, according to an EY pulse poll conducted in March. 

“One thing is certain: companies are reshaping their workforce to be more AI savvy,” Vamsi Duvvuri, EY technology, media and telecommunications AI leader, said in the report. “With this transition, we can anticipate a continuous cycle of strategic workforce realignment, characterized by simultaneous layoffs and hiring, and not necessarily in equal volumes.”

AI’s impact on tech hiring needs continues to unfold as more companies enter into experimentation stages and assess the technology’s impact on workflows. Shopify said it is evaluating the effects of AI as an add-on to certain job roles and its impact on headcount in March.