In the engine room of the economy, artificial intelligence (AI) is being heralded as a driver of productivity and commercial growth. With an ability to process huge quantities of data quickly, the technology can increase efficiency, improve the decision-making process by introducing new insights and speed up delivery. AI changes the definition of “production” and promises to transform how we measure economic growth for countries across the world.
Research by Accenture shows that, by 2035, AI could double annual global economic growth rates by creating a new virtual workforce to boost productivity, enhancing the skills and ability of existing staff and driving innovations in the economy. Over time, companies using AI will not only do things differently, they will also do different things.
As AI becomes more central to economic success, so will the skills to manage and develop it. If we want AI to permeate business processes and programmes and get the most value out of it, we must ensure plans are in place to support this rapidly expanding field.
Investing in AI education will build top talent to maximise the economic growth that the technology promises. The UK government is well aware of the increasing importance of AI and business’ reliance on the technology. It has already begun to work with companies and academia to build capacity for leading research talent and opportunities for a highly skilled and representative workforce.
The evidence is in the form of the Office for AI, which recently announced a series of measures – from recruiting world-leading academic talent to the Alan Turning Institute through to new doctorate programmes, postgrad conversion courses and the expansion of AI Master’s courses.
This move is critical, not just because of the investment being placed in this area, but because of how it is being done. Industry, academia and government represent the three main strands of our society. By coming together, they will be able to ensure the next generation is taught about AI from a technical, societal and economic perspective.
Growing the pipeline of AI professionals is essential for the UK economy. This will require business, government and academia to scale up world-class education programmes for thousands more to specialise in AI careers.
Building a diverse, advanced skills base in the UK will support the thriving technology sector and encourage the adoption of AI across the broader economy. This will also expand opportunities for people from all backgrounds to study and develop AI.
A strong commitment to building a top talent base across all sectors and functions of AI, and ensuring suitable education opportunities for the next generation, is a vital first step. As society becomes more reliant on the technology, and AI becomes more entrenched in business strategies, working in partnership with the government and academia will be an important part of ensuring its positive impact.
It is a tried and tested practice that will help take advantage of a technology set to disrupt so many aspects of our lives. Fail to do so and the UK could be playing catch-up in an area where growth will only accelerate.
Continued investment in this area will cement the UK as a leading destination for study and research in AI. This will attract the brightest minds and opportunities from around the world and ensure UK businesses are well ahead of the game.