Nov 18, 2020 - Technology

Survey: Executives are prioritizing AI skills

Illustration of a uniform name patch with the letters "A.I." stitched

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Executives and senior managers say they will prioritize hiring candidates who have skills in automation and AI, according to a survey first shared with Axios.

Why it matters: Automation hasn't yet transformed the business world, in part because companies don't yet know how to harness these new technologies. If that's going to happen, they'll need workers who know how to use AI.

What's happening: UiPath, a robotics process automation software company, surveyed hundreds of C-level executives and senior managers about their hiring plans.

  • If choosing between two similar candidates, 72% reported they would chose the employee who had more experience in automation and AI tools, whether the role specifically required those abilities or not.
  • 83% reported that automation and AI would be necessary for jobs of the future, with almost the same percentage believing the pandemic and remote work policies had increased the need for these skills.

What they're saying: "There's a huge talent play, but if you think about the emphasis that has been put on this in the past, it doesn't map up with the education" that many workers have had, says Tom Clancy, UiPath's chief learning officer.

  • Clancy argues that companies need to take on some of that burden themselves, and offer up-skilling and re-skilling programs in automation for employees on the job.
  • "70% of that education is going to be on the job; 20% is going to be working with peers and sharing, and only 10% is really going to be formal," Clancy says.

The bottom line: It will take time for the full effects of automation to reshape the U.S. economy. But workers who develop those skills now — and the companies that support them — will be ahead of the game.

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