As the wave of artificial intelligence (AI) continues to reshape industries and job markets, a new study reveals that nearly half of the UK’s workforce believes AI skills are vital for career advancement.
However, only a meagre 7 percent have had the opportunity to receive AI training in the past year, creating a significant gap between aspirations and reality in the world of AI education.
The research, conducted by Randstad UK, surveyed 1,500 employees across the United Kingdom to gauge their perceptions of AI’s influence on their careers. Astonishingly, 48 percent of respondents expressed optimism that AI would enhance their job prospects and chances of promotion.
Despite these high hopes, the study uncovered a stark mismatch between employees’ AI aspirations and the training opportunities available to them. A mere 7 percent of those surveyed reported having received any AI training in the past year, leaving the majority without the tools to harness the potential of this transformative technology.
AI skills were ranked as the fourth most important skill set for career development, with 19 percent of respondents highlighting their significance. Leadership skills took the top spot at 25 percent, followed closely by wellbeing and mindfulness (23 percent), and coaching and mentoring (20 percent). While the importance of AI skills is evident, it is clear that many UK workers are still lacking the training needed to develop these competencies.
Victoria Short, the CEO of Randstad UK, emphasised the growing demand for AI skills in the job market:
“More employers are seeking workers with AI skills — our international analysis shows a 2000 percent uptick in job ads including this compared to Q1. AI is increasingly an enabler of skills, impacting productivity and overall performance in the workplace. But the imbalance between skills demanded by businesses and those desired by employees, on the one hand, and the training opportunities provided, on the other, has to be addressed. The benefits of AI to employers are clear, and our data shows that employees stand ready to embrace it for their own gain, too. Successful organisations will leverage this.”
Worryingly, the study found that 30 percent of employees in the UK reported receiving no learning and development opportunities in the past year, while 43 percent of blue-collar workers faced the same lack of opportunities.
What about generational differences?
In terms of generational differences, Gen Z workers displayed a strong inclination toward learning and development, ranking it higher (17 percent) than their organisation’s culture (16 percent). Nevertheless, remuneration remained the primary concern for most employees. A striking 33 percent of those born between 1997 and 2012 indicated that they would consider leaving their current job if they were not offered learning and development opportunities within the next year, a number more than double that of baby boomers (12 percent).
The study underscores the pressing need for organisations to invest in AI training and development opportunities to meet the growing expectations of the workforce and to equip them with the skills needed to navigate the increasingly AI-driven job landscape. Failure to do so could not only hinder individual career growth but also result in employee attrition, particularly among younger generations who prioritise continuous learning and development.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.