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UK demand for AI professionals has almost tripled in three years

As the technology landscape changes, so do the skills organisations need, and research by jobsite Indeed has revealed a big rise in demand for people with artificial intelligence skills

Demand for professionals with artificial intelligence (AI) skills in the UK has almost tripled over the last three years, according to research.

A study by job website Indeed assessed job postings across its site since 2015 and found a huge increase in demand for skills in AI and machine learning, and the number of candidates looking for jobs in this area has doubled over the same period.

The pace of growth in demand for AI roles in the UK has outstripped that in the US, Canada and Australia, and Tara Sinclair, economist and senior fellow at Indeed, said: “Britain’s reputation as a tech leader has made it a natural home for the booming AI sector, and the UK’s concentration of AI jobs has risen steadily – and now outstrips that in the other major English-speaking countries.”

In 2018, the number of AI roles advertised in the UK was 1,300 out of every million – double the rate in Canada and 20% more than in the US.

Such roles are higher paid than the average UK salary, with jobs in AI advertised for an average of £56,385 a year and machine learning roles at £54,617.

Sinclair added: “While the jury is still out on how many existing roles could be made redundant as AI becomes more widespread, or whether its potential for job creation outweighs any losses, in the short term, AI is providing a shot in the arm to Britain’s jobs market.”

But the UK is suffering from a widespread skills gap, not only in technology in general but in more specialised areas, such as AI.

Not only are there not enough people with the technical skills required to fill AI positions, but there are also concerns over whether people currently within organisations have the skills needed for AI adoption.

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Roles that fall under the umbrella of AI, including data scientists, are in strong demand as firms try to utilise the data they have been collecting for years.

According to Indeed’s study, there are six times more AI roles available in Britain than there are candidates to fill them.

“AI jobs are not for everyone as they require highly specialised skills,” said Sinclair. “So it is essential that post-Brexit Britain retains the ability to attract the global talent it needs to keep its AI sector in pole position.”

One of the main concerns the technology industry has since the UK’s Brexit vote is the volume of people with tech skills who come from outside the UK, and many believe the country should focus on building its own talent pipeline for the future.

Read more on Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics

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