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Rapid AI Advances Spotlight Critical Global Tech Skills Shortage

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For a perfect example of just how quickly technology evolves, look no further than ChatGPT.

While artificial intelligence, chatbots, and virtual assistants were hardly new concepts prior to ChatGPT launching, it managed to take the conversation to the next level. Today, it seems like AI is quickly becoming a ubiquitous part of our lives. Professionals in virtually every industry obsess over what it is, what it can be, and how to unlock the potential for their own unique use case.

This is all why it's so important to remember that the public launch of ChatGPT only occurred on November 30, 2022 – less than two years ago. In less than 24 months, technology has once again shifted in a bold new direction at a rate that shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.

Based on that, it should come as no surprise that there is a massive critical shortage of advanced technical skills in virtually every industry you can name. The technology itself is simply evolving faster than humans can master it.

According to one recent study, about 70% of business leaders say that there is a critical skills gap, with data analysis and project management being among the most in-demand hard skills of the modern era. The digital skills gap is so vast that it is estimated that 14 G20 countries could miss out on a collective $11.5 trillion in GDP growth as a direct result of it.

But thankfully, all hope is not lost. Once an organization makes an effort to better understand the technical skills gap, particularly as it relates to high-level concepts like machine learning, it is in a much better position to mitigate risk from it moving forward. You just have to keep a few key things in mind along the way to get to that point.

The Fast-Paced Digital Era is Faster Than Ever

To illustrate how we collectively reached this point, consider your average business relationship with technology for a moment.

You don't need to have a team of software engineers working underneath you or a legion of SaaS clients to be considered a “technology company” at this point.

  • Thanks to email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and other technologies, communication is ingrained in our lives, both internally and externally.
  • Data analysis and business intelligence tools are heavily relied on to uncover trends and patterns that a human may have missed, allowing leaders to make the most informed decisions possible faster than ever.
  • CRM suites help create better and more personal relationships between a brand and its customers.
  • IT helps dramatically optimize supply chain management, saving organizations a tremendous amount of money that can be better used elsewhere.
  • Tech advances in human resources make it easier and more cost-effective to find the right candidate, to retain them, and to keep them engaged with the rest of the organization as much as possible.

Any organization that relies on modern technology that much is a “technology company.”

Now, think about the major shift that machine learning, in particular – again, a relatively new addition to this world – has made to some of those areas mentioned above. In the realm of human resources, it has completely changed the way we think about everything from talent acquisition to employee training and development. Machine learning algorithms analyze countless resumes in a flash and highlight ideal candidates just as quickly. Employee skills and preferences can be analyzed to personalize training programs for maximum effectiveness.

In supply chain management, machine learning and artificial intelligence can be used for things like inventory optimization. The algorithms can predict inventory levels to ensure that nothing goes out of stock at the worst possible moment.

In terms of customer relationship management, businesses of all types have had major success with automated lead scoring and segmentation, predictive analytics for sales, and sentiment analysis to extract more value from customer feedback.

This all points to a very simple fact: artificial intelligence, and machine learning in particular, is evolving extraordinarily rapidly.

As machine learning changes, so do things like customer relationship management, supply chain management, and human resources – core pillars upon which every business is built. As those change, the business itself does as well on a fundamental level. Everything is tied together so organically that it's impossible to separate it all.

This is precisely how you take an emerging issue like the IT skills gap and accelerate it at a rate faster than even many experts would have thought possible a decade ago.

The Shape of Things to Come

If it feels like you've been hearing about this skills gap for a long period of time, that's because you have. But believe it or not, the problem is still getting worse – and is expected to continue to do so. Another study indicated that nearly 1/3rd of employers say that the skills gap is worse today than it was just a year ago.

But fascinatingly, roughly 56% of hiring managers “anticipate” that tech-driven interventions like artificial intelligence and machine learning will cause a “major shift” in the kinds of skills they will need prospective candidates to have.

The key word, of course, is “anticipate.” For as much change as we've already seen in the last few years, many believe that the most significant shift has yet to come. If this change is an inevitability, there's no sense in trying to delay it. Instead, one must embrace it by also embracing the emerging talent pools in global markets to meet those future technology demands when they arrive.

Data analysis. AI/machine learning. Software engineering. Cybersecurity. UX/UI learning. These are among the skills that businesses need to be looking for in new employees if they're going to remain competitive in the global talent market. If they can't find prospective candidates that meet those needs, they must train the ones they already have to fill in the gaps.

In the End

If nothing else, the current critical shortage of advanced tech skills highlights one simple truth: all businesses are “technology businesses” whether they want to be or not.

Over the years, technology slowly became a part of the DNA of nearly every organization, initially just as a means of productivity, but eventually to form the basis of a company's competitive advantage in the marketplace. IT is a part of who these organizations are. If you eliminate it, there isn't much left.

Because of that, enterprises are beholden to the rate at which technology evolves—in this case, extraordinarily quickly. At that point, there are only two options available. The first is to make every available effort to keep up with that pace, remaining flexible enough to meet today's needs and better prepare for tomorrow's demands.

The second is to dig your heels in, stick your head in the sand, and continue to rely on an “old-school” way of doing things just because “that's what has always worked.”

Make no mistake: those who remain inflexible and insist that the IT skills gap is not their problem will soon find themselves left behind by their savvier, more agile competitors. This is not a matter of “if” but “when.”

Truly, it doesn't get much more straightforward than that.

As the Head of Talent Network at Turing, Nishad Acharya leads initiatives focused on the acquisition and experience of technical professionals for Turing. With a B.Tech from IIT Madras and an MBA from Wharton, Nishad has a strong foundation in both technology and business.