IBM research details AI skills gap across Europe

According to IBM research, the tech sector across the UK, Germany and Spain is struggling to find employees with adequate AI skills or experience

The AI skills gap across Europe threatens to stifle digital innovation and hold back economic growth, with around a quarter of tech recruiters (23%) having difficulty finding applicants with adequate problem solving capabilities, along with shortfalls in critical and strategic thinking.

Problem solving was revealed to be the most critical soft skill needed for tech roles among all survey participants, with up to 37% citing this capability.

Along with soft skills, 40% of tech job seekers and employees noted that software engineering and knowledge of programming languages are the most important technical capabilities for the AI/tech workforce to have.

As AI becomes more mainstream, specialist tech staff are working more closely than ever with business managers, with interpersonal communication, strategic problem solving and critical thinking required across all disciplines to secure the best possible outcomes.

“The growing importance of AI across so many industries should provide ample scope for tech sector growth. Unfortunately, a shortage of AI skills means that these opportunities can be hard to seize,” said Sharon Moore MBE, global technical lead for government at IBM Technology.

“AI is changing the world by automating decisions, predicting outcomes and optimising employees’ time. Yet advances in AI are being slowed by the shortage of workers with skills and experience in areas the report has brought to light.

“There’s a clear and disadvantageous gap in the education syllabus so for now in-house training from big tech companies, like IBM, needs to be prioritised.”

Developing AI skills

While tech employees in Spain and Germany (42%) are given training opportunities on topics including programming languages, data engineering/analysis and software engineering, the UK falls behind with just 32% receiving such training.

Moore added: “The report showed that offering education and skills training is seen as a top priority for companies looking to improve AI recruitment in the future. As a result, we have already taken proactive steps to help applicants and employees enhance their AI skills.

“SkillsBuild is a free programme which contains an AI skills module for secondary education students and adults seeking entry-level employment.

“With the right training, education and upskilling, we’ll be able to leverage AI to its full potential and as a result generate further value for companies and society.”


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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.

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Skills Gap