The ubiquity of generative and conversational AI platforms like Bard, ChatGPT, and DALL-E in recent months has the world buzzing about the exciting use cases that could change the way we live and work.
Almost half of key decision makers from major UK firms plan to invest in AI over the next two years, according to the How To Solve The Data Science Skills Shortage report by SAS. Currently, the UK adoption rate for AI stands at an average of 15% since many SMEs that make up the country’s business landscape are yet to experiment with the technology.
The reasons for this are vast, including potentially high sunk costs and financial constraints, a lack of understanding of AI use cases, and incompatibility with existing IT infrastructure. But one of the most significant barriers to AI adoption is the dreaded skills gap and staff shortages.
This has led to leaders like former Dragons’ Den star James Caan warning that organisations ‘won’t be able to maximise return from this tech without sufficient in-house expertise’, and what is needed is ‘a fundamental rethink when it comes to recruitment and training to urgently reskill and upskill the existing workforce’.
This is exactly what will be explored at Big Data & AI World on 8-9 March at ExCeL London. Elite Business’ Hannah Prevett will be joined on a panel by high-profile entrepreneurs, including Will Hale of Monday.com; TEDx Speaker, Ketan Makwana; Auris Tech founder, Kim Antoniou; and CEO of Nourish3d and Script3d, Melissa Snover.
There is no silver bullet to solving this challenge, but traditionally businesses have relied on developing talent pipelines through university partnerships, training programs, and attending events to engage with the community from an employer branding and outreach perspective. Even ‘luring’ existing staff from other businesses can happen.
Ahead of the event, here are some other ways to get you thinking about how to find the right talent for your business.
Battle your conscious or unconscious biases
We all have them. They create a consistent status quo that builds the foundation of your business and culture. But these biases need to be challenged, especially as rapidly advancing technologies require new ways of thinking.
It is a known fact that biases can happen in AI outputs when groupthink exists during ongoing training phases. This starts from the very moment you hire your team. Therefore, it is important for leaders to take a proactive approach in defining inclusive hiring processes. This can be achieved through anonymising CVs to reduce unconscious bias, supporting women returning from maternity leave, and removing misconceptions that age plays a role in acquiring digital skills.
In the lead up to Tech Show London, which hosts Big Data & AI World, I spoke with Dr. Laura Gilbert, the Chief Analyst at 10 Downing Street. She identified the challenges of ageism and sexism for businesses.
“It is a lot harder to be current than it used to be, because there is so much technology, currently we are all chasing AI. This is a problem for women particularly with maternity leave. It is very difficult to catch up. Hopefully, sexism is steadily decreasing. I think ageism is our biggest next challenge because it is still seen as young person’s game,” said Laura.
“We have got to have a ‘get real’ discussion. I think the skills shortage narrative is a misnomer. I have a lot of colleagues that have had a hard time finding positions. I think we are asking too much on job descriptions and paying too little. I wish CVs did not have people’s pictures and dates,” said Robin.
Seek soft skills
As part of a Techerati interview series in the lead up to Tech Show London, I asked several C-Level and senior leaders what they look for when hiring tech talent. To my surprise, it was not the technical capabilities of candidates that was of primary concern – it was the soft skills like problem-solving, a passion and curiosity for their career, effective communication, and an ability to learn new skills beyond AI.
Of course, it can be a challenge to identify soft skills on a CV or technical interview. Simulations and behavioural-based interview questions can go some way in finding the talent best suited for a certain work culture.
With this in mind, business leaders could even consider upskilling the existing people who already display a strong ability for these soft skills, which can also help in retention.
Whether you are looking to adopt AI, and any other technology, now or in the future, addressing these techniques will help your business remain in existence and adaptive to the inevitable changes we face in the world.
All Tech Show London events, including Big Data & AI World and Cloud & Cyber Security Expo, are a great place to explore these approaches with thousands of business leaders on 8-9 March at ExCeL London.
Best of all, ticket are free, and C-Level leaders get VIP perks – Register Now!