Report Identifies Key AI Skills

Ireland recently published its National AI Strategy, AI Here for Good. The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs has published a report “AI Skills: A Preliminary Assessment of the Skills Needed for the Deployment, Management and Regulation of Artificial Intelligence”. This report responds to the Strategy by providing an introduction and framework to the skills-related issues and challenges relevant to the adoption of AI in Ireland.

AI is recognized as a versatile technology with potential applications spanning various sectors and job roles. While the OECD suggests that AI is unlikely to result in net job losses, it will undoubtedly impact numerous professions, with some jobs becoming automated while others integrate AI into their tasks. Adapting to these changes will be crucial for individuals to thrive in the evolving job market.

Different segments of the population will require distinct skill sets based on their interactions with AI. Those involved in AI development or teaching high-level AI courses will necessitate specialized knowledge, while others within organizations must possess a foundational understanding of AI to collaborate effectively in AI-related projects. Additionally, individuals involved in procuring or using AI systems will require sufficient knowledge to comprehend their implications. It’s imperative that school children receive comprehensive digital skills education, with an emphasis on AI awareness, to prepare them for the future. Similarly, educators must equip themselves with relevant skills and knowledge to effectively teach AI concepts.

A variety of skills categories need to be considered, including high-level technical AI skills, supplementary AI knowledge for non-specialists (dual-skilling), and interdisciplinary collaboration skills essential for AI project success. Transversal skills such as critical thinking and collaboration will also be vital. Access to new skills can come from education, training, or recruitment, with lifelong learning playing a significant role in skill development. Strategies like micro-credentials can facilitate dual-skilling, while government policies can encourage talent migration to address skill gaps.

In the context of schools, foundational digital literacy is crucial, with AI integration gradually introduced over time. Various initiatives and policies are already addressing the needs of school children in this regard. Further and Higher Education institutions offer specialized AI courses and modules, along with adult digital literacy programs. Employers may provide training, but individuals are encouraged to proactively seek out the skills needed for future career prospects. Government-subsidized programs are available to support skills development nationwide.

A lack of required skills is perceived as a significant barrier to AI adoption. Enhancing digital literacy across society is essential, as workers of all ages must prepare for evolving job roles in an increasingly technology-driven landscape. Learners must be equipped to navigate a future where technology, including AI, is integrated into various aspects of daily life.

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