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New business guidance to boost skills and unlock benefits of AI

Businesses throughout the UK will be supported to unleash the enormous potential of AI across their workforce as the UK Government publishes new guidance to make sure employees have the skills they need.

The guidance is intended to help employers boost their employees’ understanding of AI so they can use it safely in their day-to-day role by setting out the key knowledge, skills, and behaviours they should have in order to reap the benefits of AI safely – including how to use artificial intelligence tools effectively such as Large Language Models and the safe and secure management of sensitive data.

Focused on five key areas, the guidance covers everything from using AI to evaluate the performance of projects through to how to build the skills and techniques needed to solve issues as people work with AI when they crop up. Employees will be helped by employers and training providers to develop a deeper understanding of how their organisation works with AI, how they can further incorporate its use, and in turn, what tools they need to tackle a particular task. From admin to accounting and a range of other aspects in a worker’s day-to-day role, the guidance will support employees to propose solutions and build a strong knowledge base to go from strength to strength as they work increasingly with AI.

Given the growing use of AI in businesses across the country, the government hopes this will serve as a vital tool for employers to ensure their workers can harness the huge potential of the technology to fuel both their own development and that of their organisation. By upskilling workers, businesses will also ramp up productivity and ensure their workforce can focus on the tasks that will have the biggest impact. Having a highly skilled workforce will allow businesses to go from strength to strength, fuelling their success and contributing to the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy.

Developed in partnership with the Innovate UK BridgeAI programme and The Alan Turing Institute, the guidance marks a first step, with the government continuing to work closely with the business community and experts to further develop the guidance and draw concrete actions that can be implemented by businesses across the country ahead of publishing a final version.

It comes as the Chancellor welcomed Microsoft’s £2.5bn investment in UK AI over the next 3 years – expanding its next generation AI datacentre infrastructure, which is a vital investment to process, host, and store the massive amounts of digital information needed to develop AI models.

Minister for AI Viscount Camrose, said:

Making sure workers up and down the country have the skills they need for their jobs with and in AI is a key part of our strategy in making the UK an AI powerhouse and ensuring the skills of our workforce keep pace with this rapidly developing technology.

This guidance will be vital in helping us realise that ambition, continuing an important conversation with businesses across the UK to make sure the steps they can take are practical, functional, and successful.

“Having a workforce which is equipped to work alongside AI will drive growth for businesses and allow us to realise the enormous opportunities AI presents in every sector of our economy.

Underpinning this new guidance is a breakdown of four distinct ‘personas’, which correspond to the level of AI expertise an individual may need. This will help users – individuals, employees, employers – to quickly identify their skills gaps, and training providers to develop relevant training schemes to address these.

AI Citizens are defined in the guidance as members of the public who could be customers or employees of an organisation making use of AI. AI Workers are employees whose day-to-day role sits outside of data and AI, but whose jobs are likely to be impacted by the technologies. AI Professionals are also identified as employees with specific responsibilities around data and AI, while AI Leaders are people in senior positions which help to oversee and introduce emerging technologies, such as individuals in board-level roles. These personas will help businesses improve their L&D offer for existing workers, and to identify key AI skills when recruiting.

Professor Will Drury, Executive Director – Digital and Technologies at Innovate UK said:

The adoption of AI is critical for our economy – it will help drive growth and competitiveness, unlocking the potential for greater productivity.

Matt Forshaw, Senior Advisor for Skills at The Alan Turing Institute said:

Businesses are increasingly interested to learn how AI could enhance their productivity and competitiveness, but they also want to ensure they have the skills and competencies to adopt these technologies safely and ethically.

The new framework clarifies routes to workforce upskilling and will support businesses across the country to harness the value of AI. This project is underpinned by strong partnership working and we look forward to seeing the impact of this project on the current and future AI workforce.

To ensure the guidance is useful for organisations across the UK economy, the government is now seeking views from across the UK’s expert community. Stakeholders have the opportunity to comment on the guidance through the Alan Turing Institute until January, when they will then host a webinar and Q&A on 7 December. Building on this feedback, in the new year InnovateUK BridgeAI and the Alan Turing Institute will publish updated guidance, an accompanying skills framework and sector-specific case studies. These resources will help businesses understand their AI upskilling needs and training providers to develop training solutions which will enable businesses to unlock the value of AI.

Read the full draft guidance and details on how to provide feedback

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