AI Skills in High Demand From Employers: Survey

Employers are scrambling to find employees with artificial intelligence (AI) qualifications, according to a survey from Amazon Web Services.
portrait of Bennett Leckrone
Bennett Leckrone
Read Full Bio


Bennett Leckrone is a news writer for BestColleges. Before joining BestColleges, Leckrone reported on state politics with the nonprofit news outlet Maryland Matters as a Report for America fellow. He previously interned for The Chronicle of Higher Ed...
Published on December 5, 2023
Edited by
portrait of Darlene Earnest
Darlene Earnest
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Darlene Earnest is a copy editor for BestColleges. She has had an extensive editing career at several news organizations, including The Virginian-Pilot and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She also has completed programs for editors offered by the D...
Learn more about our editorial process
Image Credit: valentinrussanov / E+ / Getty Images

  • An overwhelming 93% of employers said in a recent Access Partnership survey for Amazon Web Services that they expect to use generative AI in the workplace in five years.
  • Employers are looking for skilled AI workers but are having trouble filling roles.
  • Employees want to improve their AI skills but aren’t sure what training programs are available.
  • As college students embrace artificial intelligence, higher education can play a pivotal role in closing the AI skills gap.

Most employers plan on using artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace within five years, according to a new survey, and demand for employees with AI skills is high.

An overwhelming 93% of employers said in a recent Access Partnership survey for Amazon Web Services that they expect to use generative AI in the workplace in five years, with 45% indicating they expect to be using it significantly across a wide variety of work functions.

Access Partnership surveyed 4,637 individuals, including 1,340 employers and 3,297 employees, across various industries during August and September 2023 as part of the survey commissioned by Amazon Web Services. The results were clear: Employers and employees alike think AI has value and want to improve their skills in the emerging technology but aren’t sure how to go about doing that.

Employers embracing AI means a high demand for employees with relevant AI skills: 42% of employers surveyed by Access Partnership said they're actively looking for people with AI development qualifications. That figure will rise to 51% in the next five years, according to the survey.

Almost 75% of employers who want to hire employees with AI skills said they're having trouble finding qualified candidates and largely aren’t sure how to implement AI training programs. Employees likewise indicated that they wanted to advance their AI skills to boost their career prospects but weren’t sure what AI training programs were available to them.

The survey notes that the rapid transition to an AI-enabled workforce has created a labor market shortage for AI talent.

Compounding the skills gap is a lack of AI skills training, the survey reads. More than 90% of surveyed employers and employees reported facing at least one barrier to accessing adequate AI skills training for their organizations or themselves. This is consistently high across regions and sectors.

With demand for AI training among employees and employers alike, higher education is set to play a pivotal role in addressing the AI skills gap — and BestColleges previously found that college students are increasingly embracing AI.

College Students Embrace AI

BestColleges surveyed 1,000 current undergraduate and graduate students on their perspectives of AI in higher education and found that most students used AI in some form.

That November survey found that 56% of college students used AI on assignments or exams. More than half of students indicated that they had coursework that required them to use AI as part of an assignment, and 79% said the use and ethics of AI were discussed in a classroom.

The November BestColleges survey found a marked rise in the number of students using AI compared with a March survey. Then just 22% of students said they used AI to help with assignments or exams.

AI tools were most popular among business and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors. And more millennial students than Gen Z students reported using AI tools. The popularity of AI among business majors comes as schools increasingly incorporate STEM into their business programs.

Several schools have recently announced STEM designations for their master of business administration (MBA) programs. And some schools offer MBA specializations in high-demand fields like artificial intelligence and other tech skills. Prospective MBA students indicated that AI was more important than ever in a survey by the consulting firm CarringtonCrisp earlier this year.