Artificial intelligence (AI) will create 133 million new roles in the future, according to the World Economic Forum, outlines Elliott Hoffman.

In order to prepare workers for these jobs, businesses will have to significantly upskill their workforce so that they can carry out their new functions effectively.

To achieve this, first companies need to identify what AI skills their employees already have in place. Research by Deloitte indicates that there is currently a big shortfall, with only 20 percent of executives saying their organisations have the required skills to succeed in an AI-enabled world, while a further 31 percent are not sure what those skills will be.

Defining the business strategy

Initially, firms need to establish what their business strategy and goals are, and how AI tools will be used to effectively accomplish them. Then they can determine what investments they need to make in training their staff up.

This requires conducting a thorough assessment of the existing workforce’s technical and contextual skills and capabilities, particularly as it relates to AI, data analytics and associated technologies. Such practice is becoming increasingly more widespread, with the 2019 LinkedIn Learning Report registering a 32 percent rise in identifying and assessing skills gaps.

The next step is for employers to work out what skills and capabilities they need in order to carry out their jobs using AI. Then they must assess their current training and learning programmes and see how they measure up against these skill requirements.

That means looking at the specific areas the training covers, the methods and channels used to deliver it, and how effective they are in achieving the required outcome. Once that has been accomplished, firms can draw up a roadmap for upskilling their workforce.

Flexible training platforms

With a clear plan, businesses can then start training their workers effectively on how to use AI. Depending on the requirement, that can be delivered in a range of different environments and scenarios, including in the classroom, social and on-demand.

Being able to provide that flexibility is critical given the rise of remote and hybrid working. Thanks to technological advances, employees can now access the training they need at the click of a button using self-study and distance learning to match their specific requirements and fit within their working day.

One of the most effective methods for providing this training is through experiential AI-focused learning programmes. This is most effective when students present their own problem or challenge and they work through it with their trainer or fellow students to come up with a viable solution.

AI itself can also be used as a learning tool by creating personalised training programmes to meet each employee’s individual requirements. It can also monitor their progress and identify gaps in their knowledge and areas to focus on for future training.

Continuous learning process

Once they have successfully implemented their training programme, companies need to ensure that learning is an ongoing process. That means reinforcing key messages and concepts, and keeping staff up to date on the relevant areas of AI that they need to know about, as well as regularly assessing their progress and ensuring they achieve the required qualifications and certifications.

Longer term, organisations need to develop a wider recruitment strategy that ensures they hire the best talent available that already has the required skill set to do the job or has the aptitude to be quickly and easily trained in those skills. They must also focus on developing and retaining this talent by providing them with a clear pathway for career progression and flexible working and benefits.

Change in culture

Businesses also need to adopt a change mindset and culture by explaining to workers how AI can be used to improve both the company and their own careers and encouraging them to be more open to learning new skills and approaches to work. That involves listening to their concerns about the technology and telling them how it will benefit them in their day-to-day role by taking on manual and repetitive tasks and freeing them up to focus on their core work.

But this whole process shouldn’t be left to the human resources (HR) department alone. It needs to be a collaborative effort between business leaders, the chief learning officer (CLO) and HR. Business leaders must, therefore, clearly articulate what they require from the workforce in terms of AI skills and drive their implementation in the workforce, while the CLO and HR focuses on developing and delivering the training programme.

Companies should also look at the impact of upskilling on the business. They need to use a set of key metrics to determine how successfully the training has been implemented, as reflected in their results and bottom line.


Elliott Hoffman is the co-founder of AI Tool Tracker.