Preparing for the Growing AI Workforce

Developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning are calling for new skillsets, and companies are prepared to pay for those skills.

With the expansion of Industry 4.0, machine learning, and advanced robotics, the need for artificial intelligence (AI) skills is growing quickly. According to new data from jobs site Indeed.com, AI engineer jobs ranked among the most in-demand in the US for 2019. Machine learning engineers topped Indeed’s list. AI jobs showed the highest rate of growth in the number of job postings, growing 344% between 2015 and 2018.

Fractal Analytics, machine learning, deep learning, artificial intelligence, AI, technology jobs, data scientist

Artificial Intelligence has a history going back decades, but in recent years, the extent of AI in applications has greatly deepened. (Source: Fractal Analytics)

AI jobs are showing up across a wide range of industries, since the skills associated with AI touch a variety of challenges, from product design and production to robotic surgery. “Most businesses are looking to use AI skills to power their decisions, and every problem is being reframed as an AI problem,” Raj Aradhyula, chief people officer at Fractal Analytics, a company that brings analytics and AI to the decision-making process, told Design News. “This is driving the demand for these skills. In the US market, we’ve seen a 3-times increase in demand for AI skills since last year. According to Glassdoor, data scientist is the number one job for growth, and it’s among the best paid jobs in the US.”

AI encompass a wide range of job skills. Thus, those entering AI careers come for a wide range of educational experience. “A varied set of backgrounds and diverse skillsets work for AI roles, though ome quantitative background is necessary,” said Aradhyula. “We look for computer science, electrical engineering, mathematics, statistics, and economics as a good foundation. Most engineering disciplines work just as well, and more recently, we look for skills in the areas of human computer interaction.”

AI Skills Can Be Taught

Since universities are not yet cranking out scores of AI graduates, companies are developing programs to train workers in AI, machine learning, and deep learning. “There is a high level of interest in building careers in this area, and the technical skills required for data scientist work can be taught,” said Aradhyula. “At Fractal Analytics, we have invested in learning programs that help individuals develop skills in AI and analytics because we can’t fine people with expertise in all the areas that we need.”

While there is not a large number of AI specialists available, candidates for AI work can be drawn from workers with a variety of technical experience. “Some quantitative background is necessary for AI. We need people to have a good foundation in mathematics, computer science and programming,” said Aradhyula. “Additionally, the best data scientists are also great problem solvers, storytellers, and team players. We need three things to come together: AI, engineering, and design.”

Aradhyula sees all three of these skills as essential building blocks for a strong AI worker. “We need AI skills to build great algorithms; we need engineering to process large amounts of data at internet scale; and we need design to hone-in on the right problems and structure a solution so that it’s easy to adopt,” said Aradhyula. “All three areas need to come together to power human decisions. Careers in AI can be shaped with expertise in any of these three areas.”

The AI field Is Expanding and Deepening

AI, machine learning, and deep learning – all part of the world of data science – will likely change significantly as technology expands. “The overall field is evolving, and the demand for data science and engineering will continue to grow,” said Aradhyula. “We are learning more and more about what makes humans tick, and how human brains are wired. As this understanding increases, our algorithms will get better and the nature of skills in AI will evolve. I do not expect it to level off any time soon. We are just getting started.”

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

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