AI Job Openings Dry Up in UK Despite Sunak’s Push on Technology Reed Recruitment data shows postings linked to AI have dropped faster than for other roles.

 England’s artificial intelligence sector has about half the jobs open that it did two years ago, an indication that employers are taking a cautious approach toward the technology despite the government’s effort to build it into a world-class industry.

Using Reed Recruitment’s job vacancy data, Bloomberg will produce monthly readouts on the state of the jobs market in England.

Data from Reed Recruitment analyzed by Bloomberg shows that postings for jobs with AI-related keywords — like “machine learning” and “neural networks” — declined even faster than England’s wider jobs market in recent years even as interest in the technology exploded.

The findings indicate the difficulty Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has in boosting the UK economy and mark a setback on the eve of a major international summit he’s hosting on safely developing AI. The meeting this week at Bletchley Park, home to British code breakers including Alan Turing during World War II, will bring together ministers and top businesses to discuss the risks from AI, including election disruption, cybersecurity, and humans losing control of the technology.

Sunak has said he wants the UK to lead in the development of AI, calling it the “defining technology of our time.” But in England, the number of AI job postings in the three months to September slipped by almost 40% from a year ago. They’re down 61% from the peak in 2019 and have fallen more quickly compared to the rest of the labor market in the last 18 months.

AI Job Vacancies Falling Faster Than Broader Labor Market

Indexed job postings over a 3-month rolling period, 100 = January-March 2018

Note: AI postings are those where the job description included any of several related keywords, such as "ai engineer", "neural network" and "deep learning."Source: Reed Recruitment

The figures may suggest that AI will take time to seep into the labor market, embedding into the skills of the existing workforce in addition to creating new jobs, according to James Reed, chairman of Reed Recruitment.

“Employers may be exhibiting a healthy degree of caution about how best to maximize the benefits of this new technology,” Reed said. “Rather than rapidly creating new ‘AI jobs,’ it’s more likely that AI skills will gradually become an integral part of existing job roles, enhancing people’s capabilities and productivity rather than outright replacing jobs.”

While AI vacancies have slipped from their peak, there’s growing interest from applicants about the technology as predictions flourish about its ability to transform the economy and the way people work. Applications for AI roles in June and July 2023 were almost double the numbers seen a year earlier, according to Reed.

He said AI jobs will become a more important part of the labor market as “the full capabilities of bespoke AI solutions become clearer and their utility to different business segments expands.”

While job postings have tracked a wider decline in vacancies in the labor market, experts are concerned about AI, in the long run, making swathes of roles obsolete and forcing many workers to retrain quickly. Other economists are more upbeat, predicting that jobs will also be created by AI causing a productivity boom that powers economic growth.

“Jobs in AI and related fields will form a significantly larger part of the job market in the coming years,” said Kris Harris, regional director of UK technology solutions at Robert Half. “Ultimately, AI proficiency will become a key skill for workers to learn. AI technology is increasingly integrated into various industries, automating tasks and making processes more efficient.”

He said those with AI skills will have “a competitive advantage in the very near future.”

Reed’s data revealed that the UK’s AI employment hotspots — when looking at AI jobs per 10,000 workers — are outside of London, which traditionally has been a hub for tech companies.

They also show the importance of universities in spearheading innovation and employment in AI.

Cambridge and Oxford were top of the list of AI jobs created since the start of 2018. Counting per 10,000 workers, those two cities had nearly 320 and around 190 jobs respectively. Manchester and Bristol — which also have prominent universities — also featured in the top 10 with 103 and 64 AI jobs by that measure. That’s well above London’s level of less than 25.

Top Areas for AI Job Vacancies

Towns with the most AI job postings since 2018 relative to their workforce

Note: AI postings are those where the job description included any of several related keywords, such as "ai engineer", "neural network" and "deep learning."Sources: Reed Recruitment; Office for National Statistics

“The prominence of AI job growth in university cities like Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, and Bristol is indicative that AI remains an exploratory and quickly evolving field, with strong foundations forming around innovation, science, and technology hubs before expanding its influence across the broader economy,” Reed said.

Ahead of the hotly anticipated summit, Sunak said on Thursday that AI will “bring a transformation as far-reaching as the industrial revolution, the coming of electricity, or the birth of the internet.”

However, he cautioned that the rapidly emerging technology also brings “new dangers,” including the use of AI for cyberattacks, disinformation, terrorism, and the creation of chemical or biological weapons.

“In the most unlikely but extreme cases, there is even the risk that humanity could lose control of AI completely through the kind of AI sometimes referred to as ‘super intelligence’,” he said. “However uncertain and unlikely these risks are, if they did manifest themselves, the consequences would be incredibly serious.”

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