Workers Need Gen AI Skills, But Employers Aren’t Providing Them

Classroom Blackboard

Nearly two-thirds of workers say they don’t have the skills necessary to take advantage of generative AI, even though more than half, 54%, believe the technology will advance their career.

These results, from a survey by Salesforce, come on the heels of research that shows only one in 10 global workers have overall, in-demand AI skills. And while workers want to learn — and expect their companies to provide upskilling opportunities — employers often fall short of expectations, Salesforce said.

“Generative AI presents massive opportunities for businesses and workers alike,” said Ann Weeby, senior vice president of Trailhead, Salesforce’s learning unit. “However, as AI becomes more common in the workplace, the skills gap will continue to widen.”

Skills for Success

Some 62% of employees said generative AI will require them to learn a new set of skills, while 56% believe the technology will transform their role altogether. Generally speaking, workers believe generative AI will help them save time and spend more hours on strategic work. Many say the technology will save them five hours per week.

Like Weeby, workers see a generative AI skills gap. While they are optimistic about the technology’s potential, they lack the knowledge to take full advantage of it.

  • 40% say they don’t know how to effectively use generative AI at work.
  • 43% say they don’t know how to leverage generative AI using trusted data sources and while keeping first-party data secure.
  • 62% say they don’t have the skills to effectively and safely use generative AI.
  • 70% of business leaders don’t believe their teams have the skills to effectively and safely use generative AI tools.

Learning Gaps

At the same time, employers aren’t living up to expectations when it comes to helping their employees learn. Two out of three workers, 67%, expect their organization to provide opportunities to learn generative AI, but nearly the same amount, 66%, say their employer does not offer the training they need.

This comes even though business leaders see “clear cost-saving incentives” to getting their workers up to speed. Well more than three-quarters of executives, 82% said generative AI will lower their overall business costs. Some 80% believe it will increase their revenue.

“Companies need workers who understand how to use generative AI to complement and scale their work, engineer prompts, and integrate the technology into roadmaps for new and existing products,” Weeby wrote in a related blog post. “They also need people with the skills to ensure generative AI is used ethically, including mitigating biases inherent in the underlying data and protecting security and privacy.”

Image: iStock

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