AI-skills job postings jump 450%; here's what companies want

Job listings that include AI-based skills are growing rapidly as organizations look to create new efficiencies internally and for clients. But there's a dearth of AI-skilled talent, so many companies are training employees while recruiting new ones.

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The number of weekly job postings related to generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, and Cohere’s Coral, leapt more than 450% from a year ago, according to a new report from work marketplace Upwork.

And the types of job skills related to AI are also skyrocketing. Upwork’s freelance job site lists 294 skills under “AI Services.” Roles gaining steam include prompt engineers, AI content creators, machine learning and deep learning engineers, data scientists, AI chatbot developers, and professionals with model tuning and AI model integration expertise, according to Dave Bottoms, general manager of Upwork Marketplace.

AI is now the fastest-growing category on Upwork in the first half of 2023 as measured by total number of individuals hired.

Kory Kantenga, a senior economist at LinkedIn, said the share of job postings mentioning "GPT" or "ChatGPT" increased nearly sixfold (599%) between May 2022 and May 2023 — and the number of LinkedIn members who hold or have held "head of AI" positions has almost tripled in the last five years.

Generative AI is a type of AI that uses data analytics, natural language processing, neural networks, and machine learning to autonomously create text, images, video, and even computer code.

“We’re seeing that businesses are looking for independent professionals on Upwork with expertise in AI tools like ChatGPT, DALL-E, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, Jasper, and more,” Bottoms said. “These job posts are up 230% in Q2 2023 compared to Q4 2022.”

Upwork created its own AI-based job post generator to help clients quickly create fully customizable job post drafts. Upwork also launched a chatbot to help businesses new to Upwork navigate the platform and learn how to jumpstart their talent search.

“Separately, we are also beta testing a new feature called proposal tips that helps talent create more professional proposals in an instant, without requiring months of training — helping them win more work,” Bottoms said.

And the company has launched a free trial of Jasper’s AI tools through Upwork’s partnership with them. The generative AI services can be used for copywriting, marketing, and image creation; it's available to job seekers using Upwork’s jobs platform.

Other job site platforms are following the same trend. 

Josh Brenner, CEO of job-search platform Hired, said the demand for AI-related engineers has increased since the beginning of 2023, though there was a dip from January to February — possibly due to industry layoffs occuring around that time.

"Since February, there has been a significant rebound in the demand for AI-related software engineers, with active positions for these roles nearly doubling," Brenner said in an email response to Computerworld. "The most substantial surge occurred between March and April, indicating a positive trend in the job market for AI-related professionals."

The top skills employers want include Python, machine learning, AWS, SQL, and Java, according to Brenner. "Among these, Python stands out as the most sought-after skill, with employers requesting it almost twice as much as machine learning," he said.

The rise of prompt engineering

Cangrade, a company that sells an AI-based hiring and talent management platform, just announced the launch of a new prompt engineering hard skills test to help companies start building future workforce needs.

“Our test automatically assesses and scores candidates’ prompt engineering skills so organizations can ensure candidates have what it takes to succeed now and in the future,” said Cangrade CEO Gershon Goren. “This is not a test for any particular domain but rather the general ability to clearly state the problem, describe the desired outcome, learn from the result, and iterate until achieving the goal. These are the fundamentals of prompt engineering.”

Prompt engineering is “undeniably a critical skill for the future workforce,” but because ChatGPT is so cutting-edge it’s virtually impossible for companies to rate their candidates on this skill unless they are experts themselves, Goren said.

TalentLMS, a cloud-hosted learning management platform, released a new research report on navigating success in an AI-driven future, examining the most in-demand skills, and how HR managers are adapting to the changing workplace. According to the report, the top in-demand cognitive skills in the AI era are problem-solving, creativity, originality and imagination, and ability to learn.

To overcome the skills gap caused by AI, the majority of HR managers will use upskilling and reskilling initiatives (58%), along with investing in AI training tools (58%). Forty-one percent of HR managers plan to hire new employees to overcome the current AI skills gap, among other initiatives, while 85% plan some kind of learning and development investment for training employees on AI.

Lavonne Monroe, HPE’s vice president of global talent acquisition and onboarding, said when it comes to AI-skills, the company has been actively seeking talent through corporate acquisitions and recruiting initiatives.

In 2021, HPE acquired Determined AI, an open-source machine learning platform, so it could accelerate the development of AI offerings for clients. HPE has also begun partnering with schools to shape curriculums that teach AI skills.

“Going forward, the number of cloud engineers is a very small circle,” Monroe said. “And let’s be real, the diversity within that circle is even smaller. So, as you want to grow talent here, we’re going to have to ensure the graduating classes will have this skill set. That’s where we’ve been focusing now.”

A growing need for engineers

Bryan Powell, a “talent operating partner” at global venture capital and private equity firm Insight Partners, said more than 40% of open roles across Insight’s own portfolio of jobs are in engineering, “many of which are related to AI and Machine Learning.

“We also continue to see growth in non-technical jobs referencing skills in AI,” Powell said. “In highest demand are engineers with skills and experience in prompt engineering, machine learning, natural language processing, reinforcement learning, data science, and API implementation. These skills are at the forefront of AI-product development at the world’s top tech companies.”

For the foreseeable future, Powell said, engineers with these technical skills will continue to be highly sought after because of the recent push around AI. Longer term, however, AI will become democratized, and everyday employees will need to be able to utilize AI tools to continue to remain effective and competitive, he said.

“As AI technology evolves, skills like prompt engineering for [large language models] will continue to be in demand, as will individuals with these skills. These proficiencies become even more important as AI models become more sophisticated, requiring users to adapt their skills to new architectures, algorithms, and frameworks,” Powell said. “Continuous learning on the latest tech trends will be vital not only for advanced AI users, but also for the average employee.”

The best way to attract and retain AI talent, Powell said, is to prioritize work-life balance, especially with so many companies and roles being remote first or hybrid.  “You should also promote growth and learning opportunities; build an inclusive, positive, and transparent company culture; encourage autonomy, innovation, and impact,” Powell said. “Support career progression and leadership opportunities for strong employees.”

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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