UK AI held back by skills shortage says UKESF

UK AI held back by skills shortage says UKESF

Market news |
By Nick Flaherty


The UK’s role in artificial intelligence and machine learning is being held back by a significant skills shortage says the UK Electronic Skills Foundation (UKESF)

It has compiled a report, Future Engineering Skills in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, following extensive industry consultation.

“AI systems will underpin important advances such as autonomous transportation, intelligent large-scale infrastructures and smart personalised healthcare. Our motivation for undertaking this research was to ensure the engineering and ‘systems’ aspects weren’t neglected in the ongoing discussion about AI skills,” said Stew Edmondson, Chief Executive Officer at UKESF.

The UK Government has an aspiration to make Britain a global AI superpower. However, for the UK to grow and flourish as a centre of “AI systems” expertise, it is essential to ensure that the appropriate educational and training capabilities are in place, he says

 AI Systems combine software with sophisticated electronics, pervasive connectivity, machines and physical infrastructure in order to sense, understand, act and, crucially, learn to do things better.  Unfortunately, the engineering skillset for AI Systems is not really addressed by the Government in the current AI Strategy.   Employers in ‘deep tech’ have told the UKESF that they are concerned with the shortage of skills, particularly at the post-graduate level. 

Therefore, there is a clear need for Government level focus on the broader AI engineering skillset required in the future, to ensure there are the AI systems graduates needed by the ‘deep tech’ sector.

“There is no doubt AI will influence engineering design and application and it is imperative that we train Engineers with deep knowledge of AI and we must take action now to ensure that future university engineering programmes and facilities provide the graduates and the expertise to lead the engineering design, management and training of the AI systems of the future,” said Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi, Vice Principal for Research & Innovation at King’s College, London and a UKESF Trustee.

The report is here

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