New guidance to help businesses boost skills and unlock AI opportunities
Businesses across the UK are set to benefit from new guidance issued by the UK government, aimed at enhancing employees' AI skills.
The guidance is designed to elevate employees' understanding of AI, ensuring safe and effective usage in their roles. It outlines necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviours, emphasising the efficient use of AI tools like Large Language Models and secure data management.
The guidance, which addresses five key areas, aims to improve employees' abilities to use AI for various tasks, including project performance evaluation and problem-solving. Employers and training providers will support employees in developing a comprehensive understanding of AI integration within their organisations, enhancing their ability to effectively utilise AI tools in tasks ranging from administration to accounting.
This initiative is significant in light of AI's increasing role in UK businesses. By equipping workers with advanced AI skills, the guidance aims to elevate productivity and focus on impactful tasks. It represents a step towards realising the UK's potential in AI and aligns with the government's economic growth objectives.
The guidance was developed in collaboration with the Innovate UK BridgeAI programme and The Alan Turing Institute. It serves as a preliminary step, with ongoing collaborations planned to refine the guidance and propose actionable steps for businesses nationwide.
The announcement coincides with the Chancellor welcoming Microsoft's £2.5 billion investment in UK AI, highlighting the expansion of AI datacentre infrastructure. This investment is crucial for developing AI models and includes the construction of new datacentres in North London, which will be powered by renewable energy and create employment opportunities.
Viscount Camrose, Minister for AI, stated: “Ensuring that workers throughout the UK have the necessary skills for jobs involving AI is central to our strategy in establishing the UK as a leader in AI. This guidance will play a crucial role in advancing this goal.”
The guidance details five areas with corresponding knowledge and skills, such as effective AI utilisation, appropriate AI-related behaviours, and professional values. It also introduces four ‘personas’ to help identify AI expertise levels, aiding in skill gap identification and training development.
Professor Will Drury, Executive Director at Innovate UK, and Matt Forshaw, Senior Advisor at The Alan Turing Institute, both emphasised the importance of AI adoption for economic growth and workforce development.
The government is now seeking input from UK experts on the guidance, with a webinar and Q&A session scheduled for 7 December. Feedback will inform future updates, including an accompanying skills framework and sector-specific case studies, to assist businesses and training providers in AI upskilling initiatives.
This initiative builds on the government's £290 million investment in AI skills and talent since 2018, supporting a skilled workforce in the digital era. The AI Skills for Business Competency Framework complements existing professional standards, marking a new phase in addressing the practical challenges of AI in the workplace.