AI development is being held back by a significant engineering skills shortage – UKESF

Posted on 4 Apr 2023 by The Manufacturer

The UKESF, who is a skills advocates on behalf of the UK’s semiconductor sector, has published a new report, Future Engineering Skills in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, compiled following extensive industry consultation.  The report concludes that the UK’s role in this vital multi-billion-pound global industry is being held back by a significant skills shortage.

Stew Edmondson, Chief Executive Officer at UKESF said “AI systems will underpin important advances such as autonomous transportation, intelligent large-scale infrastructures and smart personalised healthcare. Our motivation for undertaking this research was to ensure the engineering and ‘systems’ aspects weren’t neglected in the ongoing discussion about AI skills.”

The UK Government has an aspiration to make Britain a global AI superpower. However, for the UK to grow and flourish as a centre of “AI systems” expertise, it is essential to ensure that the appropriate educational and training capabilities are in place.

AI Systems combine software with sophisticated electronics, pervasive connectivity, machines and physical infrastructure in order to sense, understand, act and, crucially, learn to do things better.  Unfortunately, the engineering skillset for AI Systems is not really addressed by the Government in the current AI Strategy. Employers in ‘deep tech’ have told the UKESF that they are concerned with the shortage of skills, particularly at the post-graduate level.

Therefore, there is a clear need for Government level focus on the broader AI engineering skillset required in the future, to ensure there are the AI systems graduates needed by the ‘deep tech’ sector.

Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi CBE FREng, Vice Principal (Research & Innovation) at King’s College, London and UKESF Trustee added, “There is no doubt AI will influence engineering design and application and it is imperative that we train Engineers with deep knowledge of AI and we must take action now to ensure that future university engineering programmes and facilities provide the graduates and the expertise to lead the engineering design, management and training of the AI systems of the future.”

For the full report click here

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