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May 15, 2024

The Battle for AI Talent: Early Questions

Heads of Talent Acquisition are starting to get their hands around proactive strategies for implementing generative AI into their workstreams and navigating its use by candidates. The newest question leaders are asking us, however, is how to source and recruit qualified AI talent.

To date, I have not talked to anyone who has a codified strategy for recruiting AI talent. But, here are two big questions we’re hearing dictate early strategy.

What specific skills indicate AI proficiency? 

Right now, there is a rush to scoop up “AI talent,” but this ignores the question of which specific skills the company actually needs. Put differently – not all AI skills are relevant for every AI project. And, companies will necessarily need individuals with skills outside of AI (e.g., research, project management, ethics, business strategy) to complete AI-related work. So to reduce the conversation to one of ‘Where is the AI talent?’ is to ignore a more fundamental truth – there is no codified definition or ontological classification of AI skills. But, a larger and more important question is what skills within AI (e.g., natural language processing, machine learning, robotics) and outside AI are relevant to us?

Should companies build, buy, or borrow AI talent?

AI talent is scarce. Heads of TA are exploring training their employees in AI, hiring new talent, or using temporary workers to fill gaps. Our research suggests they’re mostly trying to hire their way out of skills shortages, but the borrow question is interesting. Accenture recently took an interesting approach by setting up a Generative AI Academy in India to train 20,000 employees on 12 new roles that did not previously exist but that they see as core to their workforce strategy.


The answers to these questions will emerge with time. For now, what we do know is that AI roles are being filled approximately 11 days faster than they were a year ago. This may reflect growing urgency on the part of the organizations to win talent with AI skills.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to monitor how employers and the talent marketplace respond to this trend and share our findings.


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