James Caan CBE, an Ambassador for the Transformational Power of AI Development, Welcomes the £500m Boost for AI Development in the Autumn Statement

AI has the power to be a game changer for the UK economy, and so I was incredibly relieved to see the Chancellor pledge £500 million into AI development in his Autumn Statement. It’s investment at a level that matches the huge significance of AI and the UK’s urgent need to embrace it. 

James Caan

Since the mid-2000s, the UK has been one of the worst performers when it comes to productivity growth among advanced economies. From 2010 to 2015, productivity grew at only 0.2 percent a year. If the UK embraces the AI opportunity, the economic gains available from AI could mean an uplift of up to 22 percent of current GDP by 2030.

Investing in AI development is an opportunity that we can’t afford to miss. 

The AI skills gap is huge and getting bigger – demand for AI roles is increasing but the number of workers with the right digital skills lags behind.

Now it’s time to focus on how the UK can address its huge AI skills gap going forward.

We need to focus on short, medium and long-term impact, and I think any strategy needs to weave together three key strands: 

  • COLLABORATION: Initiatives, partnerships and joint efforts between government, private-sector businesses, and research leaders is key. 
  • TALENT PIPELINES: Improving diversity in AI roles is important, and in the short and medium term, companies need to establish connections with academic institutions (including through sponsorship) to improve their incoming talent funnel. Ideally, they can be incentivised to run training schemes and apprenticeships, and to offer re-skilling opportunities for people who studied data-relevant subjects in the past. 
  • EDUCATION: For medium to long-term change, teaching and training relevant to AI careers needs to be embedded within the education system. 

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