66% of leaders wouldn't hire someone without AI skills, report finds

Better career opportunities might be available if you are willing to upskill in AI.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
Brain representing AI
Hiroshi Watanabe/Getty Images

Evidence suggests generative artificial intelligence (AI) can perform work tasks well and many employees fear the emerging technology will replace them. However, a new study shows that professionals who use AI to their advantage could be more marketable. 

On Wednesday, Microsoft released its annual Work Trend Index in partnership with LinkedIn, surveying 31,000 people across 31 countries to provide an in-depth look at the impact of AI on employment. The results show an overwhelming prioritization of AI at work from both employers and employees. 

Also: AI raises cybersecurity fears among professionals, EY report finds

The rapid growth of generative AI and its implementation across businesses has significantly increased the demand for technical AI talent, with hiring up 323% in the last eight years, according to the report. 

However, the research shows business leaders are now set on recruiting non-technical talent with AI aptitude. These employees have the skills to use generative AI tools to the maximum advantage.

Also: 5 ways CIOs can manage the business demand for generative AI

AI skills are so much of a priority that the report suggests 66% of business leaders wouldn't hire someone without AI skills, and 71% of leaders would prefer to hire a less experienced candidate with AI skills than a more experienced candidate without them:

Work Trend Index Report
Work Trend Index Report

In addition to increasing employability, being equipped with AI skills can also help employees with their overall career development. According to the report, 77% of business leaders believe the application of AI will ensure that early-in-career talent is given more responsibilities. 

Employees are conscious of the shift in demand and the importance of upskilling, with 76% of professionals saying they need AI skills to remain competitive in the job market, 69% suggesting AI can help them get promoted faster, and 79% sharing AI skills can broaden job opportunities. 

The report found employees are taking it upon themselves to upskill, taking advantage of sources such as free online courses to learn more about AI and to sharpen their skills. Demand for LinkedIn Learning courses geared towards building AI aptitude has spiked 160% among non-technical professionals during the past six months. 

Also: Agile development can unlock the power of generative AI - here's how

Employees are also sourcing AI tools, with 78% of AI users bringing their AI tools to work. The requirement to bring tools to work and learn more about AI has fallen on employees because many business leaders neglect to upskill employees within their companies. 

The report found that 45% of US executives are not currently investing in AI tools or products for employees. Only 39% of people globally who use AI at work have gotten AI training from their company. 

Also: We found a way to escape Meta AI on Facebook - but there's a catch

In the meantime, there are free resources employees can use to close the skills gap and get up to date on AI. ZDNET has created a list of the best free AI courses to help you boost your expertise and meet your goals.

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