Stew Edmondson, Chief Executive Officer at UKESF, introduces a new report, Future Engineering Skills in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, compiled following extensive industry consultation.
Our report concludes that the UK’s role in this vital multi-billion-pound global industry is being held back by a significant skills shortage.
AI systems will underpin important advances such as autonomous transportation, intelligent large-scale infrastructures and smart personalised healthcare. We are skills advocates on behalf of the UK’s semiconductor sector and our motivation for undertaking this research was to ensure the engineering and ‘systems’ aspects weren’t neglected in the ongoing discussion about AI skills.
We know that 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. As a result, employers in ‘deep tech’ have told us that they are concerned with the shortage of skills, particularly at the post-graduate level.
Therefore, there is a clear need for the UK Government to 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.
“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.”
Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi CBE FREng, Vice Principal (Research & Innovation) at Kings’ College, London and UKESF Trustee
For the full report click here