Business leaders are braced for a jobs upheaval with the rise of artificial intelligence, according to new research from tech startup Multiverse.

New figures from 1,000 business leaders find that 56% of CEOs and executives at UK businesses predict AI will replace many of their workers.

A higher proportion, 63%, say new jobs will be created by AI, but a shortage of skills may threaten people’s ability to take advantage of these new roles. 

Four in ten (42%) business leaders point to a significant AI skills gap in their organisation, more than any other skills gap currently being experienced, and two thirds (64%) of those say this shortage will not narrow by the end of the decade.

The lack of appropriate skills in this area has fundamental consequences as half of business leaders say their AI skills gap has an impact on their profits (52%), revenue growth (53%) and productivity (51%).

Multiverse found that seven in ten business leaders say they are likely to invest in upskilling their workforce on AI skills by 2030 (71%).

When it comes to building data, tech and engineering skills capabilities through alternative hiring and training methods, 43% of leaders say their organisation plans to, or is currently, widening hiring criteria to consider candidates who have not gone to university, while 38% plan to or currently adopt skills-first hiring. Encouragingly, almost three-quarters (71%) of business leaders endorse the idea of combining learning with on-the-job experience.

AI will ‘burn the world’ without radical action

The research comes as Multiverse recently announced they will offer a new AI training module to all of its apprentices from September, the ‘AI Jumpstart’, predicting AI skills will be a core competency for the workplace of the future. This training will be rolled out to its thousands of apprentices in the UK and US.

“Artificial intelligence is transforming businesses around the world, and it’s clear from our research that business leaders anticipate huge opportunities while also recognising the risks,” said Gary Eimerman, chief learning officer at Multiverse.

“Both their bottom lines and the longevity of their staff’s careers will be negatively impacted if businesses don’t prioritise closing the AI skills gaps in a timely manner. 

“If leaders lean into the massive upside that investing in talent now provides, they’ll reap the outsized benefits of an AI empowered workforce for years to come.”

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