Spanish bank applies AI to staff training

CaixaBank uses artificial intelligence to help its staff find and access the most relevant training resources

Spain’s CaixaBank is using artificial intelligence (AI) as part of its internal training platform to help its staff understand what training they could benefit from and help them access it.

The use of AI within the HR department is an example of a project that can help the technology, which is usually associated with replacing humans, become accepted and used by the workforce. 

The latest version of CaixaBank’s Virtaula training portal uses AI to profile staff and identify what training they might benefit from. A chatbot, which communicates using natural language, will also assist staff accessing courses if they want to take up suggestions.

Through Virtaula, the bank provides courses in languages, executive skills, digital skills, finance and risk management, among others. These range from university postgraduate courses to short-duration courses.

“The application of AI in the Virtaula platform will give each employee access to courses that are potentially more appealing based on their individual profile,” said CaixaBank in a statement. In 2019, more than 90% of the training that the bank offered to staff was taken through Virtaula.

The system will become better at its job over time, said the bank. “These course suggestions will also continue to be enhanced as the system will learn and improve, based on user experience.”

The Virtaula platform also gives staff access to regulatory information, which is compulsory for all workers in the financial sector.

Virtaula is a 20-year-old system but has been constantly updated to include new resources and technologies, including social networks and gamification techniques to promote learning.

CaixaBank’s use of AI is an example of how digital transformation at banks goes beyond transforming customer engagements with chatbots or replacing repetitive manual tasks with robotic process automation software. The technology is contributing to improving the human workforce by finding insights that an HR department could not do manually.

Read more about artificial intelligence in banking

Recent analyst predictions show that technologies like AI are likely to decimate the global financial services workforce.

A report from financial services management consultancy Opimas said finance firms in the investment sector spent $1.5bn on AI technologies in 2017, and it predicted that this would increase by 75% to $2.8bn in 2021.

Opimas also said technologies such as machine learning, deep learning and cognitive analytics will replace 230,000 jobs in investment banking by 2025. The asset management sector will be hardest hit, with 90,000 staff being replaced, it said.

But using AI technology in the HR department, as CaixaBank has done, can help staff to understand the technology and overcome fears that its purpose is to replace them.

Another HR example is in Singapore, where DBS bank is using the technology to screen applicants for wealth management jobs, with the aim of saving 40 man-hours a month. A platform known as Jim (Jobs Intelligence Maestro) supports staff in reviewing CVs, collecting responses to pre-screening questions and conducting psychometric tests.

The platform gives recruiters more time to find candidates and interview them, as well as freeing up time to allow them to do more valuable work. Candidate can get real-time interaction with the recruitment platform 24 hours a day.

Read more on Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics

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