From education to employment

It’s a digital world – the rise of AI in the labour market – at the FE Collective

It’s difficult to grasp just how dependent we are on technology to perform our daily tasks, whether at work or in our personal lives. The labour market is reflective of this new digital world, with the demand for digital skills climbing steadily over the last few years.

Currently, 4 out of 10 employers mention digital skills in their job postings. And it’s not just traditionally tech-based jobs (think engineering and software roles) that require digital skills: any other industry and occupation does to some extent. For instance, productivity and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Office are standard in most companies, so employees would be expected to know how to work with them even if their role isn’t highly digital in its nature.

AI skills are being increasingly requested

But digitalisation is a broad term, and it’s been here for a while. There’s a new cool kid on the block that is worth our attention: Artificial Intelligence (AI). We can already see how AI technologies are impacting jobs across industries. Much like the broader digital skills category, AI skills are being increasingly requested regardless of the industry or nature of the role. We can see this sustained growth even in sectors that are mostly customer-facing, such as Accommodation and Food Services or Human Health and Social Work activities.

Technology advancements can be scary, especially as their impacts are yet to be fully understood. But there’s no need to panic with AI. In fact, this technology can bring a myriad of opportunities for both businesses and employees. According to Lightcast data, AI jobs are better paid and higher value than non-AI jobs. Think of a Marketing Specialist, for instance. Advertised salaries for Marketing Specialist roles where employers have specified AI skills are, on average, £14,800 more than the same role where AI skills have not been specified – quite a significant difference.

So where are UK employers on their AI journey?

The demand for AI skills is still very much concentrated in the south of the UK, and mostly in large metropolitan cities which tend to have a higher concentration of job postings. For example, Cambridge, with its world-renowned university, and science park employing over 7,000 people, currently takes the lead as the UK hotspot for AI skills, with AI skills mentioned in 2.6% of the city’s job postings. London comes second, with these skills being present in 2% of its job postings, and Oxford comes third, with a 1.9% share.

The future of AI

Reaping the opportunities that AI brings us – and preparing for an increasingly digital future – requires investigating some of these trends in-depth. For example, understanding the top common and specialised skills for AI roles gives companies a sense of the kind of skills they should be requesting. Equally, knowing which AI tools are on the rise and potentially being adopted by competitors helps businesses future-proof their workforce and ensure they are fully equipped for a digitally-driven world.

The Lightcast team has done extensive research on the topic of digital and AI skills, and we will be exploring these and other key findings at the FE Collective in Birmingham on 17th October. We look forward to seeing you there!

By Elena Magrini, Head of Global Research at Lightcast

Interested in meeting Elena in person? Join us at the FE Collective in Birmingham on October 17th! The FE Collective is a significant event where we collaborate to create a sector-specific report, crafted by the sector, for the sector. Don’t miss the chance to listen to Elena discuss topics like artificial intelligence, investments in the future sector, and progression. To find out more, join us at the FE Collective – get all the details here.

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