By Corporate English Solutions

09 October 2023 - 12:10

Closing the AI skills gap Empowering the workforce through upskilling and reskilling

Prepare your workforce for the AI-driven future with a proactive L&D approach. Stay agile, embrace continuous learning, and provide hands-on experiences to empower your team and thrive in the AI-powered era. 

Explore our latest insights to shape upskilling and reskilling in your organisation and prepare for future of work today.


Reading time: 4 minutes

Do you have a concrete plan to equip your workforce with the skills they need for the AI-driven future?

Microsoft’s 2023 Work Trend Index highlights that 82% of leaders recognise the pressing need to prepare their workforce for the expanding AI landscape. In this evolving environment, upskilling—enhancing existing skills—and reskilling—acquiring entirely new capabilities—are emerging as indispensable strategies. 

Organisations like Amazon, Ericsson and PwC are heavily investing in upskilling and reskilling initiatives to build employees’ AI capabilities. Amazon’s Machine Learning University equips its employees (no matter their background) to build machine learning skills. And they’ve opened it up to anyone, no matter where they work or live. 

However, in a recent survey, 40% of CEOs cite a lack of AI-related knowledge and skills within their HR team as the biggest obstacle to AI integration. While this is a challenge, it also presents an opportunity for L&D professionals: to make the most of your critical role in bridging the AI skills gap, to develop your own knowledge and skills and to adapt current practices and methodologies, effectively up and reskilling employees in future skills. 

In part one of this series, we explored the critical skills for an AI-driven workforce. Skills like digital literacy, human-AI collaboration and soft skills, all needed to fully maximise the potential of AI technologies. 

Now, in part two, we shift our focus to actionable strategies for proactively developing these skills, adapting current practices and laying the groundwork for success in an AI-driven future.

Read on to gain valuable insights that will empower your organisation to maximise both AI and human potential.

1. Adapt skills frameworks 

Revise (and enhance) your existing skills frameworks by aligning them with the essential skills, knowledge, and capabilities needed for AI adoption in your organisation. 

Evaluate whether it's more beneficial to categorise AI-specific skills, such as digital literacy, AI delegation, and AI-human collaboration, and associated competencies, as distinct categories or integrate into existing categories.

Choose distinct categories to: Choose to integrate with other categories to:
increase visibility of and emphasis on AI-related skills. ensure that AI skills are relevant and connected to broader job roles and responsibilities.
precisely recognise, identify and target AI-specific skills. identify synergies between AI skills and other competencies, potentially leading to innovative applications across different areas of the business.
tailor AI-related skills assessments, evaluating proficiency and skills gaps accurately. carry out holistic evaluation of employees' skills.
benchmark AI skills against industry standards. integrate AI skills training into existing programmes.
tailor AI skill development to specific roles and job functions, ensuring alignment with individual career paths. optimise resources reducing redundancy and lowering costs.
Best for: Roles with a large, crucial or specialised AI component Best for: Roles with a small, non-critical or general AI component

2. Adopt an agile approach to skills gap analysis 

When did you first do an AI skills gap analysis? 

For many L&D teams, analysing AI competencies is a fresh challenge. And the AI competencies of today will evolve into multifaceted skill domains tomorrow, requiring L&D teams to develop a proactive approach to stay ahead of the curve in their own knowledge. Stay up to date by actively engaging with industry associations, online communities, and AI-focused forums. These platforms offer access to the latest insights, trends, and best practices, and will prepare you to pivot, adapt and evolve needs analysis in line with changing competencies. 

The dynamic nature of AI means that skills requirements evolve more rapidly than traditional skill sets. By carrying out regular needs analysis, you can identify skills gaps promptly, respond to emerging needs and make real-time adjustments to training strategies. 

Sounds confusing and time-consuming?

AI tools like generative AI, data analytics, and visualisation can help you optimise skills gap analysis, proactively identify emerging skills gaps and adapt course content or delivery methods, ensuring they remain aligned with the rapidly changing AI landscape. These tools not only enable you to be more agile, but also enhance assessments’ accuracy.

3. Foster a continuous learning culture

It’s not only L&D teams that need to learn continuously in an AI enabled environment. 

When skills needed for success are in a state of constant flux, a culture of continuous learning is vital for all employees

Embracing continuous learning empowers individuals to keep pace with the rapidly evolving demands of their roles, enabling them to adapt, leverage AI’s full potential and thrive amid technological advancements. It fosters a mindset of resilience and growth, boosts creativity and innovation and increases engagement and retention. 

Cultivating a culture of learning goes beyond upskilling and reskilling in AI capabilities. It helps the entire organisation stay adaptable, agile and innovative.

How to build a continuous learning culture?

  • Ensure leaders are committed to actively encouraging a culture of learning and growth.
  • Set and communicate a clear vision for ongoing skill development.
  • Provide accessible learning opportunities and resources that enable employees to take ownership of their learning journey. Recognise and reward their efforts.
  • Integrate learning into the flow of work and encourage knowledge sharing.
  • Foster a work environment where mistakes serve as learning opportunities.

4. Adapt your learning progammes for AI-related upskilling and reskilling

Learning too, is evolving to support the growth of AI related skills. 

AI skills are best acquired through real-world application, so provide opportunities for employees to work on AI-related projects. Think practical, hands-on tasks that immerse them in AI scenarios, allowing them to apply their knowledge and gain valuable experience. This experiential learning approach not only deepens their AI competencies but also boosts their confidence in handling real AI challenges.

Promote collaboration on AI projects, sharing knowledge and insights for collective learning. Establish mentoring programmes and encourage participation in AI-focused communities, both within and outside the organisation to learn from skilled professionals and accelerate skill development.

Use AI-driven platforms with adaptive learning paths for personalised learning experiences. These tools can adapt content based on individual progress, focusing on areas that need the most improvement, making AI skill development more efficient. Incorporate credentials and certification for structured learning paths and AI skills validation where possible. 

The future of work is already here – and it will increasingly be AI-driven

This demands a proactive approach from L&D teams. 

By embracing agility, staying updated on evolving competencies, fostering a culture of continuous learning, and providing hands-on experiences, you can empower your workforce and empower yourself to thrive in the AI-powered era.

British Council has over 80 years’ experience of partnering with organisations and individuals in over 200 countries. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity with extensive insights into evolution of learning.

Our holistic, research-driven approach to learning and assessment and forward-thinking industry leading solutions empower growth, positively impacting individuals and organisations. Partner with us to upskill your workforce in crucial skills and prepare them for an AI enabled future, through courses in English Language, Communication Skills, Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Intelligence.