Why an AI Skill Strategy is Needed Now?

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AI Skill Strategy


At a recent conference, I was struck by how many people in the workforce have little understanding of the differences between artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI unless they encounter it in their private lives or are AI involved professionals.

Many are also unaware of the potential risks and regulation associated with these technologies.

Early 2024, only 15% of organizations have clearly defined the talent (ie, both roles and skills) needed to execute the generative AI strategy.

The reluctance to invest in generative AI is understandable in industries where sensitive data and data secrecy are critical or where AI applications are not yet fully integrated into production processes.

However, this should not be a reason for the workforce to remain unaware of how AI functions.

AI is increasingly pervasive, touching nearly every aspect of our lives and industries. As individuals and citizens, we are living in a world deeply integrated with AI technologies.

Education is a powerful tool organizations can use to demystify AI and its risks, but it is only the beginning.


1. Why Your Workforce Shouldn't Stay Unaware?

Reason 1: Lack of Basic Knowledge: Without basic AI knowledge, employees may not understand the tools and technologies offered to them, particularly by external providers. This lack of understanding can threat their ability to critically evaluate the implications of AI on their tasks and broader organizational goals.

Reason 2: Missing Opportunities AI's transformative impact offers increased efficiency, cost savings, data-driven decision-making, and improved customer service. Employees need to understand these potentials to leverage AI for future opportunities effectively in their industry.

Reason 3: Ethical and Responsible AI Deployment AI's benefits come with challenges, particularly related to ethics and responsibility. A knowledgeable workforce is crucial to ensure that AI is developed and deployed ethically, mitigating potential legal or reputational risks for the company.

Reason 4: Addressing Skill Shortages There is a notable shortage of qualified AI professionals and a skills gap among non-AI professionals.

As the AI-driven economy expands, addressing this mismatch becomes imperative to keep up with rapid technological advancements. An effective solution is to create new roles and train employees to serve as bridges between business stakeholders and model development teams, ensuring alignment between strategic goals and technical requirements.


Together, these reasons make a compelling case for the development and implementation of a strategic plan to bridge the skills gap and ensure the effective and responsible integration of AI technologies across sectors.


2. What is Needed?

  1. Demystifying AI : AI impacts all aspects of society, and every worker and citizen needs to understand how AI works and how it affects their work and everyday life.

  2. Basic AI Knowledge for Decision-Makers: Decision-makers within organizations need basic AI knowledge to understand AI initiative proposals and assess AI's impact on business processes. These roles should encompass an understanding of AI technology and its moral, ethical, accessibility, and legal dimensions, along with the intricacies of successfully implementing these technologies.

  3. Urgent Need for AI Upskilling Programs: There is a shortage of AI professionals educated in advanced learning programs and non-AI professionals needing tailored, education programs focused on fundamental AI knowledge. Current programs often cater more to AI practitioners than to non-AI professionals.

  4. Promoting Diversity Encourage individuals from diverse backgrounds to build careers in AI, ensuring a wide range of perspectives and skills in the AI workforce.


3. How to Start?

The first step is to build AI awareness, particularly for companies not yet considering AI.

AI Awareness vs. AI Literacy

AI Awareness refers to the general level of recognition and understanding among individuals and communities about the existence, capabilities, and implications of artificial intelligence. It involves a basic knowledge with what AI is, how it is used in various sectors, and the potential benefits and challenges it presents. AI awareness is the foundational layer that precedes AI literacy and education, aiming to inform people to the presence and influence of AI in their daily lives.

AI Literacy is the deeper understanding of AI, focusing on how it works, its applications, and its impact on society.

AI literacy equips people with the knowledge to critically evaluate AI technologies, understand their everyday interactions with AI systems, and make informed decisions regarding AI use. AI literacy requires continuous learning through timely information and updated assumptions.


4. Moving Forward with AI Skills: The SAFE Method

S - Define Your Strategy

  1. Define Goals and Objectives:

    • Determine the specific goals of your AI educational program, such as increasing general awareness, improving technical understanding, or preparing employees for AI integration in their roles.
    • Align AI education goals with broader strategic objectives, such as fostering innovation, enhancing productivity, or ensuring ethical AI use.
  2. Identify Target Audience:

    • Segment your audience based on their roles and current AI knowledge. For example, AI professionals may need further education in specific areas of expertise, while non-AI professionals (e.g., legal and decision-makers) need a basic understanding of AI and deeper skills depending on their role (CDO, compliance, risk management, etc) for implementing AI in organizations.

A - Assessment

  1. Evaluate Current AI Education Levels:

    • Conduct interviews or assessments to gauge the existing AI knowledge and skills within the organization.
    • Identify gaps or potential AI skills mismatches and areas that require more focus.
  2. Resource Analysis:

    • Assess available resources, including internal expertise, training materials, and budget.
    • Identify any external resources or partnerships that could support the AI literacy program.
  3. Benchmarking:

    • Compare your organization’s AI literacy with industry standards and best practices.
    • Use benchmarks to set realistic and measurable targets for improvement.

F - Feasibility

  1. Develop an Educational Framework:

    • Define key educational profiles with programs and learning outcomes.
    • Outline key topics to be covered, such as AI fundamentals, ethical considerations, data privacy, AI laws, and specific AI tools relevant to your industry.
  2. Resource Allocation:

    • Allocate necessary resources, including time, budget, and personnel.
    • Ensure you have the right mix of internal trainers and external experts to deliver the program effectively.
  3. Pilot Program:

    • Implement a pilot program to test the learning offerings and delivery methods with a small group.
    • Collect feedback and make adjustments as needed before rolling out the program organization-wide.

E - Engagement

  1. Communication:

    • Promote the AI education plan within the organization through internal communications, highlighting its importance and benefits.
    • Use success stories and testimonials from the pilot program to generate interest and buy-in.
  2. Interactive and Continuous Learning:

    • Incorporate interactive elements like workshops, Q&A sessions, and hands-on projects to make learning engaging.
    • Foster a culture of continuous learning by providing ongoing training opportunities and access to resources.
  3. Monitor and Evaluate:

    • Continuously monitor participation and progress through assessments and feedback.
    • Regularly evaluate the program’s impact on individual and organizational performance and make improvements as necessary.
  4. Stakeholder Involvement:

    • Engage stakeholders at all levels to ensure broad support and participation.
    • Establish a feedback loop where participants can share their experiences and suggest improvements.  


Legal Obligations Under the EU AI Act

 The EU AI Act mandates that organizations using AI must ensure their staff have sufficient AI literacy. Article 4 requires providers and deployers of AI systems to take measures ensuring staff and other relevant persons have adequate AI knowledge and skills.

This obligation will take effect six months after the AI Act is published in the Official Journal (expected in July 2024).


In conclusion, a strategic AI skill plan is essential for organizations to leverage AI's benefits, mitigate its risks, and comply with upcoming regulations.

Building AI awareness and literacy are critical steps toward this goal.




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