The UK risks a growing divide between organizations that invest in new, artificial intelligence-enabled digital technologies and those that do not, new research suggests.
Only 36% of UK employers have invested in AI-enabled technologies such as industrial robots, chat bots, intelligent assistants and cloud computing in the last five years, according to a representative survey of the country from the Digital Futures of Work Research Center (Digit). The survey was conducted between November 2021 and June 2022, with a second wave now.
Academics at the University of Leeds, along with colleagues at the Universities of Sussex and Cambridge, led the research, finding that only 10% of employers who have not yet invested in AI-enabled technologies plan to invest in the next two years.
The new data also points to a growing skills problem. Less than 10% of employers expect to need to make an investment in digital skills training in the coming years, despite 75% struggling to recruit people with the right skills. Almost 60% of employers report that none of their employees received formal digital skills training in the past year.
Lead researcher Professor Mark Stuart, Pro Dean for Research and Innovation at Leeds University Business School, said, “A mix of hope, speculation, and hype fueled a runaway narrative that the adoption of new digital technologies powered by AI will rapidly transform the UK labor market, boosting productivity and growth. These hopes are often accompanied by fears about the consequences for those work and even the danger that exists.
“However, our findings suggest that there is a need to focus on a different policy challenge. The AI revolution in the workplace has not yet occurred. Policymakers must address the same low investment tag -owned by digital technology and low investment in digital skills, if the UK economy is to realize the potential benefits of digital transformation.”
Stijn Broecke, Senior Economist at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said, “At a time when AI is moving digitalization into higher gear, it is important to move beyond the hype and have a driven debate . through evidence rather than fear and anecdote. This new Digital Futures report by the Work Research Center (Digit) does exactly this and provides a nuanced picture of the impact of digital technologies in the workplace, highlighting the risks and opportunities.”
The main reasons for investment are improving efficiency, productivity and quality of products and services, according to the survey. On the other hand, the main reasons for not investing are AI that is not related to the business activity, more business risk and the nature of the skills in demand.
There is little evidence in this survey to suggest that investment in AI-enabled technology will lead to job losses. In fact, digital adopters are more likely to have increased their employment in the five-year period prior to the survey.
As policymakers race to keep pace with new technological developments, researchers are now urging politicians to focus on the realities of AI in the workplace.
The Employers’ Digital Practices at Work Survey is a key output of the Digital Futures at Work Research Center. The “First Findings Report” by Professor Mark Stuart, Dr Danat Valizade, Felix Schulz, Professor Brendan Burchell, Professor Richard Dickens and Professor Jacqueline O’Reilly will be available on the Digit website on Tuesday 4 July.
Provided by the University of Leeds
Citation: ‘Workplace AI revolution has yet to happen,’ says survey (2023, July 3) retrieved July 4, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-07-workplace-ai- revolution-isnt-survey.html
This document is subject to copyright. Except for any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. Content is provided for informational purposes only.