Tech

Crucial Skills Gaps in the UK Include AI and Strategic Thinking, According to Red Hat


The survey also detailed the biggest barriers to innovation. Read what experts say about how generative AI has impacted the job market.

A panel of human resource interviewers.
Image: ty/Adobe Stock

The most in-demand skills in the U.K., according to a survey by Red Hat, are strategic thinking and the ability to tackle business-level issues (73%) followed by artificial intelligence skills (72%) such as those around large language models.

The U.K. IT managers in large enterprises surveyed by Red Hat said they were also looking to find experts in other technical areas including agile delivery and the use of practices such as continuous integration and continuous delivery pipelines, GitOps and automation. But tied with that in the survey at 69% was demand from IT managers for staff with problem-solving and leadership expertise as well as employees with cybersecurity skills.

Red Hat said part of the problem is that IT organizations don’t have the time they need to make the changes that would actually help them save time in the longer term.

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What are the main reasons for these IT skills shortages?

When asked why IT teams were struggling with a skills shortage, the top reasons given by respondents were:

  • High workloads preventing people from finding the time to upskill.
  • The lack of budget for training, upskilling or recruitment.
  • Teams working in silos, preventing cross-team learning opportunities.

What are the biggest barriers to innovation?

Given this context, it’s perhaps no surprise that the skills and ways of working were seen as the biggest barriers to innovation. One in three (36%) of the 300 U.K. IT managers surveyed saw the slow adoption of the latest processes and efficient ways of working as a barrier, while 35% pointed to the lack of budget for effective training and upskilling. The inability to recruit and retain the right talent (30%) was third on their list.

Red Hat said organizations need to build expertise in areas like data bias, ethics of AI and model explainability.

How can you create value and competitive advantage from AI?

Chris Baynham-Hughes, head of Open Innovation Labs, EMEA at Red Hat, said that with generative AI the potential for competitive advantage is so huge and exciting, organizations want to take advantage of it now before their competitors do. That’s something that takes technical and management skills.

“The key thing to remember is that the challenge of creating true value and competitive advantage from AI is still a very human one. Organizations must, therefore, answer these questions: What problem is AI going to solve for users/customers/citizens? How might we enable them to do what they need to do quicker, more accurately or with less effort?,” he said in an email to TechRepublic.

“Thinking strategically, focusing on the outcome(s) and the flow of value is the key to unlocking the power of all technology investments, not just AI; it will support in transforming the capability and capacity an organization has into clear business value,” he said.

How has generative AI impacted the job market?

Kris Harris, regional director, UK Technology Solutions at Robert Half, said the deployment and adoption of generative AI technologies has influenced the job market in a number of ways. “We are already beginning to see an increased demand for AI specialists, which includes new and emerging roles related to this specialism. In a similar vein, we are also beginning to see job specifications being adapted for existing roles so that they incorporate AI-specific skills and responsibilities,” he said in an email to TechRepublic.

“Of course, we can’t overlook the opposite side of the conversation around this. Given that these tools can pick up tasks that are currently being carried out by people, there will be a level of displacement of some jobs and skills, yet we anticipate for this to be counteracted by AI creating new opportunities for new types of roles as well,” he added. Harris said that employers are often looking for staff with technical and strategic business skills. “Candidates who can demonstrate proficiency in both areas are generally more attractive to employers,” he said.

SEE: Impact of AI on Jobs in the UK: 10-30% of Jobs Could be Automated with AI (TechRepublic)

Recruitment company Nash Squared, said that while there is still a demand for talent, competition is not as fierce as it was recently, as many big tech companies found themselves overstaffed for the economic climate they found themselves in and cut back.

George Lynch, head of Technology Advisory, NashTech, at Nash Squared, said generative AI is the biggest disrupter in technology since the advent of cloud computing, so naturally the demand for skills to support adoption is currently high – but ill-defined. “We have had many discussions with companies who are trying to figure out how to successfully leverage generative AI to improve productivity and open new opportunities,” he said in an email to TechRepublic.

“We anticipate the rise of the prompt engineer as a new role along with dedicated Heads of AI. We also see data science being less of a nice-to-have skill and actually essential for IT managers to fully capitalise on generative AI,” he said.

If you’re hiring for a prompt engineer, this customizable TechRepublic Premium download can save you time.



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