Public sector short on AI skills, report shows

Sixty percent of government respondents in a recent survey said that the lack of relevant skills impaired their ability to apply artificial intelligence.
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The cloud software firm Salesforce published a report Wednesday showing that the overwhelming issue technology professionals experience when trying to implement artificial intelligence in the public sector comes down to a shortage of skills.

In surveys of public- and private-sector professionals, 46% of respondents said lack of skills hampered their ability to implement AI in their work. That figure jumped to 60% among public-sector respondents.

“Training and skills development are critical first steps for the public sector to leverage the benefits of AI,” Casey Coleman, senior vice president of global government solutions at Salesforce, said in a press release. “By investing in new skills like prompt development, public sector leaders can empower their workforce to use AI to increase productivity, build deeper relationships with constituents and improve the quality of public services.”

Other AI roadblocks public-sector IT workers face include data quality and security issues, an increasing cost of programming and general ethical concerns. Thirty-four percent of public-sector respondents said the focus on AI is slowing down other IT projects.


Sixty-eight percent of respondents who worked in public or private media and entertainment considered themselves experts in effectively using AI – the highest of any professional category in the survey. More than half of respondents in business services, manufacturing and health care considered themselves AI experts. Only 28% of those working for the government considered themselves experts at using AI, according to the survey results.

Although the skills gap is impacting AI adoption in the public sector, IT professionals reported optimisism about how the technology may be used to improve their work. Survey respondents said that the top three benefits to implementing AI in the public sector are the ability to automate routine tasks, reduce risk and improve customer experiences.

To help public sector workers develop their AI skills, more than 500 officials from 200 state and local governments recently joined to form the GovAI Coalition, a group that shares resources on how to responsibly use AI. Since forming last fall, the group has published documents that governments can use to draft policies and is now helping agencies adopt those policies.

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