AI deployment must be combined with AI skills development say top UAE leaders, Microsoft survey

Microsoft finds high growth companies are combining skilling with AI deployment

Global research released by Microsoft reveals that companies see the biggest business benefit from artificial intelligence, AI, when they combine deployment of AI with skilling initiatives that focus on both tech and soft skills. Surveying more than 600 employees and leaders within larger enterprises across the UAE, the research focuses on skills needed to thrive as AI becomes increasingly adopted by UAE businesses, giving enterprises insights into where to best place their investment.

Combining skilling with AI

Among the UAE companies that are the most mature in terms of AI adoption, the majority of their senior leaders, 93%, say they are actively building the skills of their workers or have plans to do so. Further, almost two-thirds, 78%, of employees at these businesses say they have already benefitted from reskilling programmes.

The research shows that companies prioritising AI are focused on ensuring it’s complementing the talents of their people. These businesses are cultivating employee skills across every category, ranging from advanced data analysis and critical thinking to communications and creativity.

Focus on innovation

In the UAE, almost all workers, 97%, are keen to take part in AI reskilling initiatives. The majority, 77%, of those working within an organisation using more AI say their organisation is actively preparing them for a digital future that will be increasingly powered by AI. To address the skills gap in today’s workforce, Microsoft has set up a virtual training ecosystem designed to benefit employees specialising in skills needed for future jobs. Initiatives like the Microsoft Cloud Society are part of this framework, which has to date reached over 256,000 members across the Middle East and Africa. Additionally, platforms such as the AI Business School are empowering individuals to remotely upskill in areas around AI, Cloud, Data and Security.

“The high-tech UAE economy advanced by initiatives such as the National AI Strategy 2031 will accelerate new economic and social opportunities for citizens, governments and businesses and generate significant growth, a high priority in the current UAE economy,” said Ihsan Anabtawi, COO and CMO, Microsoft UAE. “This new study analyses how AI leaders are driving more business value in the new environment as companies skill, upskill and reskill the workforce to make them future ready. Those ahead of the curve will empower employees to unlock inherent business value from AI, ensuring their firms increase capacity to be more agile, adaptive and resilient.”

“We’re seeing a virtuous cycle emerge among those companies who extract the greatest value from AI. These leaders have realised that having the right skills enables them to unlock more value from AI, are in turn encouraged to extend their use of AI, which levels up skills across their whole organisation.” added Anabtawi.