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All Irish workers will need some AI skills, says new report

23 Jun 2022

With AI ‘likely to complement rather than replace human beings in many cases’, a new report recommends that a free course be made available for everyone.

A new report on AI skills says all Irish people will need some knowledge of this technology for their careers, regardless of whether they work in tech or not.

The report was published today (23 June) by an expert group on Ireland’s future skills needs. It was informed by the national AI strategy, which was published last July and recommended a people-centred, ethical approach to AI.

The AI skills report highlights the need for all Irish workers to have some level of understanding of how AI can benefit their job.

“AI skills are not just for AI experts. Everyone will need some knowledge of AI and its implications,” said Minister of State for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins, TD.

“While AI developers and researchers will need expert-level skills, it is also the case that anyone working in an organisation that deploys AI systems will need to understand enough about AI and its implications to work effectively with those systems or alongside AI experts.”

‘AI skills are not just for AI experts’

The report found that net job losses are not expected as a result of the adoption of AI, however many jobs will change as certain tasks are taken over by tech. It also noted that AI has the potential to bring substantial productivity increases, but only if the general workforce has the skills to fully benefit.

The report said that AI can contribute to the automation of tasks but is “likely to complement rather than replace human beings in many cases”.

“While many sectors and job roles will be exposed to AI, this does not mean that these jobs will be lost, rather that jobs will change: some tasks will be automated and humans will focus more on the things that AI cannot do quite as well.”

A cultural shift in terms of who needs an understanding of AI is required, the report added. It gave the examples of public sector employees who need to procure or regulate AI systems, and members of the public who need to know how to interact confidently with AI systems online.

Lifelong learning and education are to be core tenets of this understanding of AI. The report recommends that organisations in the public and private sector should identify where they can use AI and train their staff accordingly.

It also recommends that teachers should have some digital literacy training for both primary and post-primary levels. The curricula in schools should also be reviewed to ensure that AI is covered, particularly in STEM subjects. The use of AI should also be explored in teaching, learning and assessment.

Authors of the report said that the Government should support the development of new apprenticeships in AI and make AI-related micro-credentials available to both learners and workers.

Finally, they recommend providing a free online AI course for citizens. The promotion of the course should be linked with digital literacy courses provided by the higher education sectors and the targeting of international AI talent should also be pursued.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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