36% of UK employers have invested in AI

A new survey has explored how many organisations have purchased AI-enabled technology, such as chatbots, cloud computing and industrial robots

An animation of a robotic hand comes out of the screen of a lap top computer to shake hands with a human hand

Research led by scientists at the University of Leeds has explored the uptake of AI-enabled technologies by UK employers.

The nationally representative survey, which was carried out between November 2021 and June 2022, found that 36% of UK employers had invested in technology, such as chatbots, cloud computing, industrial robots and smart assistants, over the past five years.

Of those who had not invested in AI-enabled technology, only one in ten employers had future plans to invest in the technology over the next two years.

The survey, which was supported by researchers from the University of Sussex and University of Cambridge, found that 75% of employers had difficulties recruiting people with the right digital skills.

Around 60% of employers reported that none of their employees had received digital skills training over the past year.

Lead researcher, Professor Mark Stuart, of Leeds University Business School, shared that the findings suggest the “workforce AI revolution” is yet to happen.

“Policymakers will need to address both low employer investment in digital technologies and low investment in digital skills, if the UK economy is to realise the potential benefits of digital transformation,” he said.

The survey found that there was little evidence to suggest investing in AI technology leads to job losses.

In contrast, employers that invested in this technology were more likely to have increased their employment in the five-year period before the survey.