AI & Beyond


By Paris Fawcett

The age of AI is here, and rapid technology advancements are impacting the demand for digital skills in the workforce. We asked our industry partners how they are navigating this change. In synthesizing what we learned, below are 8 key takeaways regarding the tech skills needed in business today, and those required to prepare your workforce for tomorrow. 

Data is queen

Data has ruled our world in the past year. Code First Girls has placed more women in data scientist and data analyst roles than any other position.  Data optimisation is of the highest importance for business performance, organisation and customer insights, as well as the vital role it plays in the development of AI.  It’s therefore no surprise that our clients are keen to hire in the field. Our data jobs also include  ‘Insights Analyst’ and ‘Business Analyst’; roles that support organisations to make better business decisions.

Likewise, our career-switcher community is also keen to move into the field of data. In our most recent annual survey, 39% of our community said that they were looking to upskill within the field of data science, beating out all other technologies. 

Cloud and Cyber remain imperative

As technology and the threat of hackers advances, so does an organisation’s need for cyber security. Alongside this demand for robust cyber security systems, cloud technology is witnessing a surge in demand as it is pivotal for secure data storage and accessibility. In fact, when we asked our community which future technologies they were most excited about cybersecurity took the top spot. 

Research predicts that those working in Cloud and Cyber have some of the highest job security in tech. Especially amidst a global tech talent shortage where hiring managers are struggling to find those with the specialist skills needed in these fields. 

Some of our cloud-based roles that have seen a surge in demand are Cloud Engineer and Cloud Data Engineer.

Prompt engineers

Back in September, Code First Girls spoke with National Grid’s Chief Information and Digital Officer, Sarah Milton-Hunt, about mapping out skills for the future tech workforce.  What she anticipated is that the future tech landscape won’t solely revolve around coding.

Emerging roles that require communication skills indicate an increasing role to be played by career switchers and arts & humanities students in the industry’s future. McKinsey recently reported that 7% of all organisations which are hiring AI roles are looking for prompt engineers. 

Recognising the emerging importance of AI, Code First Girls recently announced our new +Masters course in AI and Machine Learning which allows learners to explore careers such as AI Designer, AI Engineer, ML Engineer, Big Data Engineer and more.

AI implementation and application

According to Gartner, there are three stages of AI’s business integration:

  • Stage 1 – AI as an assistant who can support us in processes to make us more productive.
  • Stage 2 – AI as an active creator that brings forward new insights. AI can simulate massive quantities of models, data and scenarios to surpass human abilities.
  • Stage 3 – AI as an actor. We don’t yet know where this will be taken or what it means practically, legally and socially. 

Gartner goes on to suggest that AI is going to generate 500 million net new jobs by 2036. Our partners are already using our AI and Machine Learning +Masters to ensure that they stay competitive and on top of emerging technologies and the skills required to work with them. 

For many of our partners, the starting point is with our Kickstarter classes across Python and Data & SQL, building our talent pipelines to progress to our CFGdegree streams in either software or data, and all providing a strong foundation for those starting our in tech and wanting to build careers in AI & Machine Learning. 

T-shaped developers

Industry faces a stark deficit in diverse talent at the mid-level. With 50% of women leaving their roles in tech by the age of 35, and only 52 women being promoted to manager for every 100 men, more and more employers are looking to recruit those with more than two years of experience in coding to fill that gap. 

We’ve seen a demand for T-shaped developers, those who understand technical leadership and modern software practices including Agile, DevOps and automation with deployment to the cloud. Companies need to retain women in tech to ensure diversity and inclusion continue to build alongside tech advancements such as AI. We work with employers to upskill their existing employees or women at mid-level talent through our Mid-Level Accelerator, helping them to unlock developer velocity and enjoy business benefits such as higher innovation, revenue growth and increased margins 

Reskilling and redeployment

Reskilling and redeployment will become imperative to retaining talent and staying competitive. Not only is reskilling important for keeping up with the accelerated pace of growth in tech but will also give companies the best opportunity to avoid having to make redundancies to adapt to the changing industry. This is especially important for individuals in the roles that are likely to be affected or taken by the rise of industries like AI. Hubspot estimates that these roles may include Computer Support Specialists and Market Research Analysts. There is such a great opportunity to use existing talent inside businesses to create new career and growth opportunities, creating a win-win situation for employees and employers alike.

AI competency in software development

Studies show that AI significantly boosts productivity, particularly in the field of software development. According to McKinsey, their developers found ‘impressive speed gains for many common developer tasks’ such as writing and optimising existing code. 

While many developers may be concerned by AI’s capabilities, research such as this suggests that AI will transform roles, allowing individuals to focus more on strategy and high-level thinking. McKinsey suggests that 20-30% of our work will be transformed by automation in the coming decade. In our recent survey, a massive 56% of our community in tech based roles said that they use AI on a daily basis – with the majority of these people saying they use AI to gather information quickly (65%), to improve productivity (58%) and to improve speed of work (47%).

Likewise, across industries, we’re seeing our clients use AI in a myriad of ways, from chatbots to identifying research gaps, and detecting fraud for customers in the banking industry. When asked what excites them most about AI, a quarter of our surveyed community mentioned the advances in scientific research that it will bring. In second place was the development of smart home technology, closely followed by personalised healthcare.

The rise of AI is a huge opportunity for all businesses

It’s easy to become concerned about the role of AI in the future workforce. However, the World Economic Forum found that more than 50% of companies expect job growth due to technological trends. Meanwhile, AI is expected to bring a huge amount of economic growth, with Goldman Sachs predicting a 7% increase in global GDP over a 10-year period. 

If organisations begin to upskill employees now, they will be way ahead of the curve by the time AI hits its peak. Likewise, for the individual looking to begin or progress their tech careers, there’s no better way than learning to work with the languages of the future. 

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