AI requires future-proofing skills

New Skillsoft survey reveals nearly all L&D professionals are taking action by developing soft skills, building professional networks and upskilling in other technical areas.

  • 7 months ago Posted in

Skillsoft has released new survey findings, exploring how more than 350 learning and development (L&D) professionals across the UK and Germany are navigating the skills crisis in light of rapidly expanding technologies such as generative artificial intelligence (GenAI).

The survey, conducted at the recent Learning Technologies and LEARNTEC events in London and Rheinstetten in May 2023, reveals that 96% of respondents believe GenAI will transform job roles. As a result, 84% of L&D professionals are future-proofing their careers. This includes developing complementary soft skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and communication, which are “power” skills for adapting and finding ways to augment the work of AI, building a professional network to open up other career opportunities and upskilling in other technical areas. However, while L&D professionals are getting on the front foot with AI, only 37% of respondents say their organisation has arranged AI training in the past year. 

“AI has been transforming the workplace for years, and its impact is only set to increase now that GenAI tools such as ChatGPT are taking the world by storm. As a result, organisations need to step up and support learners on their upskilling journeys by facilitating AI skills development opportunities. Training people for the jobs of tomorrow means aligning skills development with business needs – and considering what those needs will be in the next 12–18 months. With technology rapidly advancing, it’s mission-critical that organisations think strategically about how to upskill workers so that they can use AI tools ethically and productively,” commented Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA at Skillsoft. 

Additional highlights from the survey include: 

L&D professionals’ confidence wanes due to critical organisational skills gaps

Only 58% of respondents say their organisation’s investment in skills development is sufficient to close the skills gap.

The most critical skills gaps respondents say their organisation currently faces are leadership skills (54%) and soft skills such as communication and problem-solving (52%), more so than technology skills. 

Leadership skills are also considered the most important skills for future organisational success (50%), followed by data analytics (47%) and cybersecurity (38%).

The learning formats regarded as the most effective for organisations looking to upskill their workforce are coaching or mentoring (44%), digital learning (43%) and microlearning (41%). 

Given this equal split, it's clear that a blended learning programme is most effective in building skills and appealing to learner preferences. 

Challenges remain, with L&D professionals requiring increased buy-in from business leadership

The biggest challenges facing L&D teams today are delivering with limited budgets (46%), building engagement with learning (46%) and keeping up with changing skilling requirements (36%).

While 82% of survey respondents believe their L&D programme is aligned with business strategy, over half of these (56%) said improvements could be made.

To better align, L&D professionals require increased interest and investment from business leadership (48%), improved bandwidth and availability from the L&D team (44%) and more defined priorities and focus (42%). 

Discrepancies between the UK and Germany

In the UK, 60% of respondents name AI as a critical skills gap facing their organisation, yet 63% said their organisation had not provided any AI training in the past year. In Germany, only 20% name it a critical skills gap, yet over half have been provided with technical, compliance or managerial training in AI.

53% of UK respondents also name AI as an important skill for the future, compared to 26% of German respondents.

German respondents are also more confident that their organisation’s investment in skills development is sufficient to close the skills gap. 34% describe themselves as very confident, compared to just eight per cent in the UK.

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