Adapting our regional workforce for Artificial Intelligence

In 2017, I started my master’s degree in workforce development, focused on AI and the skills of our workforce. In my prior company, AI was deployed to handle IT alerts. As this occurred, fewer IT operators were needed. Instead, my organization was trying to hire a rare skill, teaching the AI how to handle IT alerts based on data on past successful outcomes. I believed there was a better way to bring our workforce along in the transition, leveraging their subject matter expertise while providing the AI skills needed to be effective.

This changing nature of jobs is undoubtedly an outcome from the implementation of AI. Just last week, World Economic Forum released a new report on the impact of AI on jobs. They are predicting that over 40% of all working hours will be impacted by large language models. Simultaneously, WEF predicts a 40% jump in the number of AI and machine learning specialists by 2027, a 30-35% rise in demand for roles such as data analysts and scientists or big data specialists, and a 31% increase in demand for information security analysts.

Companies will need to adopt AI to be competitive in a global economy. In 2018, McKinsey Global Institute predicted that companies that adopted AI would grow 2x, while those that did not would shrink by 20% by 2030. With the recent release of generative AI platforms, one might argue that these are conservative estimates.

So, how should we respond? We argue that the most effective individuals and organizations will be those that understand AI technology. We’ve been preparing for this moment for over two years and will continue to do so. Some examples include:

  • FUSE: Our summer multi-disciplinary collegiate bootcamp provides skills in areas like Python and AI ethics to help them solve industry challenges.  Our 2023 bootcamp starts June 15. If you are interested in guiding our future tech talent, please consider volunteering for our “Coaching Conversations” by filling out this form.
  • AI Academy: Over 35 individuals have taken advantage of a Department of Labor grant to get skilled in AI. The last federally funded cohort starts at the end of June. If your organization would like to send individuals through the training, reach out to Sarah Sewell.
  • Quarterly events: In Q1, several of our corporate members (Milwaukee Tool, GE Healthcare, Northwestern Mutual) shared how they are utilizing AI to improve their products and processes. In Q2, we will have VCs and a startup share how the startup ecosystem is leveraging AI to provide new solutions to industry challenges. While space is limited, you are welcome to join virtually. Register here.
  • Joint planning with industry: In April, the MKE Tech Hub Coalition and the Higher Education Regional Alliance (HERA) utilized a structured workshop to gain insights into the skills which our employers anticipate needing, providing the opportunity to proactively address the employer’s needs.

We are seeing the dawn of a new era of AI. This change is not unlike the advent of the internet. Some feared the technology. Others embraced it, opening a whole new world of opportunities. Today, it’s hard to even remember a time before the internet. With that said, we must implement the technology responsibly. The only way to do this is to understand it – the good and the bad.  We plan to be alongside our regional organizations to help them embrace this new age.

-Kathy Henrich, CEO, MKE Tech Hub Coalition  


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