Lack of talent leaves Australia lagging in AI market

There's a boom in demand for skilled workers to manage artificial intelligence – so where are they?

Lack of talent leaves Australia lagging in AI market
Demand for artificial intelligence–related talent in Australia has grown by more than 50 percent over the past 12 months. Supply, on the other hand, has been plodding along.

“Unfortunately, Australia falls behind major global economies in accessing the skills and capability to effectively implement and manage AI across the enterprise,” says Aaron McEwan, HR Advisory Leader at CEB, now Gartner.

The United States had an AI-related talent pool of approximately 41,820, the United Kingdom had 11,640 and Canada had 7,060. Australia has just 3,370 – and most of them are located in Sydney, according to research by the company.

Despite this, smart organisations are aware of the business opportunities AI offers, especially in customer service.

But hiring talent from overseas to respond to this demand may present a few problems.

 “The new visa restrictions mean Australian organisations will find it harder to borrow workers from overseas as it will significantly impact the free-flow of talent coming to Australia,” McEwan says.

He thinks the logical consequence of companies not being able to buy or borrow talent they need is to build them. They have to look within their own talent pools to see where they can create the skills they need.

“Choosing to build talent internally rather than hire from the outside or borrow talent on a temporary basis, will set Australians organisations up for successfully creating an AI strategy,” McEwan adds.

This will certainly affect business and customer outcomes.

In existing talent pools are highly engaged, interested and proactive employees who are open to new development and career opportunities, he says. As an example he points to a US company that got its staff to design a robot that could process insurance claims in just three seconds.

“There are strong leaders committed to the growth of the staff,” he says.

Related stories:
Why can't Australia find highly-skilled workers?
AI isn’t eliminating jobs, it’s deconstructing them

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