Workers in Ireland are increasingly developing skills in artificial intelligence (AI) to help meet the demands of digital transformation, a new labour market survey has found.
But the report also confirmed a continued slowing in hiring from post-pandemic highs, with rates in January 2023 down more than 27 per cent on the prior year.
The IDA Ireland Labour Market Pulse survey, in partnership with LinkedIn and Microsoft, shows a 500 per cent increase in the share of AI talent in Ireland between 2016 and 2022, rising from 0.34 per cent of LinkedIn members in 2016 to 2.09 per cent last year.
The growth comes following recent emphasis on investment in AI, which increased Irish talent by 28.5 per cent and global talent by 42.1 per cent in 2021-2022.
The survey provides an overview of trends across the Irish labour market, informing decision-makers across business, academia and public policy. It highlighted the increasing importance of AI in the workforce, which has become important to helping businesses in their digital transformation, and positively impact jobs and skills across multiple sectors.
The World Economic Forum is predicting that 97 million jobs involving AI will be created between 2022 and 2025, requiring effort to overcome the skills gap that is currently seeing demand outstrip supply.
The survey also highlighted gender diversity in AI teams, with LinkedIn data indicating a gender gap still exists.
The highest share of AI talent in Ireland was seen in the education sector, at 6.36 per cent; globally, the largest share was seen among members in the technology, information and media. A focus on upskilling and reskilling employees, the introduction of a digital strategy for schools and the introduction of a national masters in AI are also helping to force Ireland to the forefront of the development and adoption of AI.
“The increase in female enrolment in AI-related education programmes is particularly welcome,” said IDA Ireland interim chief executive Mary Buckley. “Despite global uncertainty, it’s encouraging to see Ireland react to the need to develop AI skills with a focus on upskilling and reskilling all the way from the workforce to a digital strategy for schools.”
Microsoft Ireland’s site lead James O’Connor described AI as “a defining technology of our time”, and said he expected to see the technology change the nature of work in the future. “We are optimistic about what AI can do for people, industry, and society. “These shifts are similar to the changes we’ve seen with other major technological advances such as the invention of the telephone or the automobile. And like those changes, we expect this shift will require new ways of thinking about skills and training to ensure that workers are prepared for the future and that there is enough talent available for critical jobs.”
The Labour Market Pulse survey indicated a stabilising of the labour market in 2022, with continued economic headwinds forcing employees towards stability.
The report was welcomed by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney. “As AI continues to revolutionise industries across the board, those with the skills and expertise to develop and deploy cutting-edge AI solutions will be in high demand,” he said. “Ireland has the potential to be a leader in this field, but it will require a concerted effort to cultivate and attract top AI talent to the country.”