AI boom drives demand for training

Over half (55%) of employees surveyed wanted to learn new skills to improve performance in their current role

Over six in 10 (61%) employees reported that they want generative AI training, as technology company Nvidia reported an explosion in corporate appetite for artificial intelligence (22 May).

Research by KPMG showed that 56% of all 18-to-24-year-olds and a third of 25-to-34-year-olds reported they had already used generative AI to learn new workplace skills, compared with 15% of those aged 55 to 64.

David James, chief learning officer at 360 Learning, told HR magazine that it has become increasingly important for HR to offer employees AI training.

He said: “AI skills are increasingly becoming integral to the success of businesses. Ensuring employees understand how to use these tools is critical. 

“It’s not as simple as providing a generic course on how to use AI. For employees to succeed, they need to understand what it means for them in their day-to-day work, and be given the guidance and support needed to perform.”

Over two thirds (69%) of UK firms predicted that AI will be the main driver of workforce transformation over the next three years, research from workforce planning provider Orgvue showed in March 2024.

The same research revealed that 82% of firms were investing in AI, despite 50% being unclear on its business impact or how to implement it. 

Read more: AI will affect 40% of jobs, IMF says

HR should carry out skills assessments to understand how to tailor AI training to the needs of its workforce, James added.

He continued: “Before launching new training programmes, HR teams should carry out skills assessments to understand knowledge gaps and areas where employees need further training.

“With this knowledge, HR teams can seek to bridge gaps as effectively as possible. 

“With assessment data, HR and learning and development teams can then engage subject matter experts, who can then explain how the right AI tools should and could be used in the context of roles and tasks.”

Under half (44%) of the 2,000 UK desk-based working adults surveyed by KPMG strongly agreed that they had the right skills to perform their roles effectively.

The most in-demand areas for learning were digital skills (44%), industry-specific knowledge (43%) and soft skills such as communication and leadership (41%). Two thirds of 18-to-34-year-olds indicated that they wanted to improve their communication and leadership skills.

HR should tailor AI training to each generation, Annabel Joseph, director of people for HR software platform Applaud, recommended .

Read more: Employees need new or better skills, say HR professionals

The KPMG research showed that a third of 18-to-24-year-olds prefer to learn by doing their own research online, which exceeds the 19% national average for all age groups.

A quarter of this group also reported that they prefer to use social media or social learning platforms to learn new workplace skills as their primary source. The UK average is 10%.

Joseph told HR magazine: “The future of work demands an AI-literate workforce, but a one-size-fits-all training approach won't cut it in today's multigenerational landscape.

“Bridging the tech-savviness of Millennials and Gen Z with the experience of Gen X and Baby Boomers requires a diverse training toolbox. 

“Bite-sized learning modules, gamified experiences and immersive technologies can spark engagement for younger generations. 

“In contrast, blended learning with foundational training offers a more comfortable pathway for those who might feel less tech-savvy.”

KPMG commissioned the polling platform OnePoll to survey 2,000 UK desk-based working adults between 26 April 2024 and 2 May 2024.