Artificial Intelligence (AI) is, seemingly everywhere. But in reality, in the European Union, a mere 8% of enterprises are using an AI technology, as last measured by Eurostat in 2021. Now, two years later, these numbers may have changed drastically — but there’s no reason to think why the continent’s SME’s have successfully introduced AI onto the work floor.
Europe is falling behind quickly
The main reason for that is a simple one: a sincere lack of skills. So how severe is Europe’s dearth of AI talent and how does it compare to the United States, China and the United Kingdom – the world’s AI champions? That’s what Bruegel aimed to find out, through an analysis of AI-relevant degrees each year. It looked at three separate bachelor’s degrees. Firstly, computer science bachelor’s degrees, which provides some indication of educational attainment in AI-relevant degrees. And secondly, computer science PhD and master’s degrees.
While there has been some progress on the postgraduate front, the EU’s 6% annual growth rate pales in comparison to the US’s 13%. In other words, the gap has widened.
These figures all indicate the same thing: Europe is off the pace by quite a bit, compared to China, the United Kingdom and the United States. The number of awarded bachelor’s degrees in Europe actually decreased in the eight-year period ending 2018. While there has been some progress on the postgraduate front, the EU’s 6% annual growth rate pales in comparison to the US’s 13%. In other words, the gap has widened.
Per million inhabitants, the EU has approximately 128 awarded computer science bachelor’s degrees, while the US has 242 and the UK has a world-leading 296. When we look at PhD and master’s degrees, the only category where Chinese data is available, it is similarly sombre for for the EU. The US leads in that category with 147, China comes in at 131, the UK is at 120 while the EU’s number lies at 81.
How do you solve a problem like ARISA?
In other words: there’s work to be done. Which is exactly what a new initiative called the Artificial Intelligence Skills Alliance (ARISA) aims to do. In short, ARISA aims to reduce the AI skills shortages in the EU market by identifying the current and emerging AI skills gaps for specific occupational domains, including business leaders, technology leaders, tech practitioners, and policymakers.
ARISA aims to reduce the AI skills shortages in the EU market by identifying the current and emerging AI skills gaps.
The project looks set to run until 2026, during which it will develop a European strategy for AI skills development that defines concrete strategic objectives and actions to address the identified skills gaps including a short-term and long-term roadmap. The project will also deliver curricula and learning programmes to empower employees, job seekers, business leaders, and policymakers with the knowledge and skills needed to support an inclusive and human-centric AI.
Open and collaborative
The Erasmus+ project, led by DIGITALEUROPE, consists of some of the continent’s top universities and organisations who have joined forces to reduce the AI skills gap. The ARISA consortium brings together 16 full partners and 4 associated partners with solid experience in technology, training, and community building, a wide network of stakeholders from diverse backgrounds including education and training providers, qualification bodies and associations representing the industry and digital ecosystem.
Notable names include The Adecco Group, Amazon Web Services and Skillsoft — while it includes universities such as the Warsaw School of Computer Science and the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. “ARISA is designed to engage with public and private stakeholders at the local and European levels to ensure the highest quality results and support the AI upskilling and reskilling of the workforce”, the press release reads. “Ultimately, the project wants to foster a community revolving around AI skills as part of the European Commission’s flagship initiative Pact for Skills.”
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