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UK facing severe AI skills gap

(Image credit: Image Credit: Razum / Shutterstock)

The UK could end up lagging behind the rest of the world with respect to artificial intelligence (AI) adoption due to an acute skills shortage.

This is according to a new report from Microsoft, entitled "AI Skills in the UK", which claims the country utilizes AI less frequently and to a lesser extent than American businesses.

According to the report, more than a third (35 percent) of business leaders in the UK believe an AI skills gap will establish itself in the next two years, while more than a quarter (28 percent) believe one already exists.

To make matters worse, UK businesses are not doing enough to address the issue. Less than a fifth (17 percent) of employees are part of a re-skilling process, while only a third (32 percent) feel their company has prepared them for an AI-enabled future. Both figures are well below the global average of 38 and 42 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, roughly half of UK employees use AI to work faster and smarter but, again, the country sits below the global average of 69 percent.

“Many companies struggle to move AI projects from proof of concept to production. To succeed, firms must put sufficient resource and expertise into educating employees, and help them to embrace new innovations, thereby creating champions for AI-enabled change,” said Chris Withers, Head of AI and Advanced Analytics for UK Financial Services at EY.