Foresighting Future Skill Requirements: Building AI Solutions to Support Net Zero and Digital Upskilling

The upskilling of national workforces to enable decarbonisation and digitally-driven productivity, two of the biggest economic transformations of our time, are deemed mission critical by both business and government. However, despite advocacy for upskilling strategies, the functioning of the skill systems and markets in place to facilitate them are dogged by fundamental information gaps. Central to the issue is a disjuncture between employer skill demand driven by rapid technological change and training provision that can be responsive to resultant changes in workforce skill requirements. The coordination problem that this case highlights straddles both sides of the equation. Employers lack effective digital tools through which to collectively articulate and signal emergent skill demand to training and educational markets as well as across supply chains. Training providers lack the tools through which to scope market demand and to respond with timely and quality training provision supplied at the local and regional levels. This talk centres on the use of Machine Learning and big data analytics for the ‘foresighting’ or the identification of emergent and future skill requirements in order to overcome the informational challenges derived from this underlying coordination problem. The focus will be on a case study in which these methods are being brought together under a UK government-industry-funded project in support of skill priorities relating to net zero and digitalisation in the automotive sector.

About Dr Adam Saunders
Dr Adam Saunders is a SKOPE Research Fellow at the Department of Education at the University of Oxford and Director of Oxford Data Technologies Limited, an early stage AI start-up company. His research interests centre on the study of comparative political economy (CPE) with a focus on national economic competitiveness and skills as well as the application of Machine Learning and data science methods to CPE use cases. He previously held posts as a Departmental Lecturer, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow and British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford. He has been a Co-Investigator on UKRI-funded research projects relating to the use of Artificial Intelligence in the UK service sector and the impact of vehicle electrification and battery production on the automotive industry. Through his work Adam has engaged extensively with many large corporations and several HM government departments, including No. 10 Downing Street, the Cabinet Office, the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) and the Department for Education (DfE), amongst others. He has developed research partnerships with a number of technology companies, including Oracle, Meta, CK Hutchison Holdings and Spectus. Adam is a member of the Skills Working Group of the Automotive Council, a government-industry body with a focus on sector affairs.