Learning & Development

Make Room for AI in Your Training Budgets in 2020

Artificial intelligence (AI) is sweeping the nation! So much so that almost half (45%) of U.S. employers say they plan to increase employee training budgets as AI and automation change the nature of some jobs and create opportunities for new ones. On the flip side, however, only 16% of employers say they expect to reduce training budgets.

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Source: Vladvm / Shutterstock

These insights are the latest in a series of research-based announcements from Genesys®, a provider of omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions. Genesys conducted surveys in six countries examining opinions on the rising adoption of AI in the workplace.

The research also found U.S. employees are split on their perception of their readiness to work with AI. In fact, just over half (52%) of the U.S. employees surveyed believe they have the necessary skills to be successful in an AI-enabled workplace.

However, almost as many (48%) doubt they have what it takes, with 20% saying they do not possess the right skills and 28% reporting they simply aren’t sure. But confident Millennial employees are the most likely age group to feel their current skillset will meet the challenge of AI.

“The most successful AI deployments take more than good data and the best technology—people are an equally important part of the equation. We believe that’s why employers should be investing in their people to prepare them for a future workplace that will change as a result of this intelligent technology,” says Merijn te Booij, Chief Marketing Officer at Genesys—in a press release. “Savvy organizations understand that as AI takes on more of the simple, repeatable tasks, it also presents an opportunity to help employees increase their technical abilities, problem-solving skills, and creative thinking that will lead them into fruitful career paths.”

Closing the Skills—and Generation—Gaps

The Genesys survey found 25% of employers and 20% of employees see a definite gap in workers’ skills. The survey also found employees working at U.S. companies with 1,000-plus staff are more likely (59%) to say they have the skills they need compared with employees at smaller companies with sub-250 staff (48%).

In terms of demographics, Millennials (ages 18 to 38)—both employers and their employees—express the most confidence in current skillsets. Millennial employers surveyed are more likely to say they are satisfied with their workers’ skillsets than are Baby Boomer employers (ages 55 to 73).

Millennial employees also feel more confident of their own skills (60%) to compete with AI than do either Generation X (ages 39 to 54) workers (53%) or Baby Boomers (43%). In fact, a full third (33%) of the combined Gen X and Baby Boomer employee survey respondents say they “don’t know” if they have the right skills, compared to just 19% of Millennial employees.

The Next Frontier of Training

While AI can move some types of lower-skilled, repetitive tasks off workers’ plates, it also offers opportunities for innovative training delivery and makes it easier for employees to develop and polish new skills. Genesys found that 53% of U.S. employers like the idea of automated training powered by AI/bots. However, only 38% of U.S. employees do—although there is less resistance among workers at companies with 1,000-plus staff.

When it comes to training that leverages cutting-edge augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies, U.S. employees are more enthusiastic (58%) to try it than are their employers (49%).

Across the job categories of survey respondents, driver/transportation provider (81%) and Human Resources employees (71%) are the most interested in using AR/VR for training. In fact, more than half of the employees in every job category show interest in experiencing this type of training delivery method.

The surveys also show:

  • Using smartphone training apps is a no-brainer, with 70% of U.S. employers agreeing to the idea for greater convenience.
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of U.S. employees expressed willingness to use a virtual or digital assistant to help them self-manage tasks and deadlines. There was a similar level of interest across the three age groups surveyed.
  • A friendly face might make a difference in how AI is viewed. Training by a human-like robot powered by AI is something that employers (41%) and employees (40%) agree on. Gen X employees show the highest degree of interest (45%) in robot trainers compared to 34% of Baby Boomers.

Survey Methodology and Demographics

Genesys commissioned research consultancy Vitreous World to conduct online surveys in April/May of 2019, which includes responses from 5,310 adult employers or employees in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. In the U.S.A., 1,001 employees (65% women/35% men) and 303 employers (56% women/44% men) participated.