Assistance and participation: How AI is counteracting the shortage of skilled labour

Skilled labour shortages threaten competitiveness and prosperity in Germany. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can make a contribution to securing skilled labour. For example, the technology can be used to reduce the workload of employees and support the integration of people with disabilities and migrant backgrounds into the labour market. A current white paper from Plattform Lernende Systeme uses practical examples to show the potential and challenges of using AI in business and administration. The experts identify the necessary framework conditions for securing AI-supported skilled labour, such as promoting AI skills at school or investing in data and computing infrastructures.

Download the white paper (in German)

The shortage of skilled labour is already being felt in many industries and professions. According to recent studies, 1.9 million jobs were unfilled in the fourth quarter of 2022. There is a shortage of skilled workers, particularly in care, construction, childcare and automotive engineering - but companies are also lacking AI experts. The situation will become even more acute when the baby boomers retire. According to the white paper "Using AI to secure skilled labour" published by Plattform Lernende Systeme, demographic developments and structural changes in our working world require new strategies and innovative solutions.

The use of AI can counteract skills shortages. AI systems in the workplace can automate activities, thus relieving employees and increasing productivity in the company. The authors of the white paper emphasise that the previously untapped labour market potential in the population is particularly important. AI can help to integrate the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities and immigrant skilled workers into the labour market, for example by using AI solutions to overcome language barriers. AI tools also enable new working models. Employees who work part-time due to caring for children or relatives in need of care are more likely to be able to expand their activities under more flexible working conditions.

For demographic reasons, a whole generation of skilled workers will be leaving the labour market in the next few years. According to the white paper, this will mean that valuable knowledge will leave companies, which is often only available in the minds and bodies of employees. AI-based knowledge transfer can help to preserve this tacit knowledge. For example, an assistance system could use various sensors to record employees' work steps, learn to store the knowledge behind them and pass it on to new generations of skilled workers.

AI expertise and computing infrastructure required

"AI will not be able to eliminate skills shortages on its own. However, the use of the technology can make a significant contribution to securing the skilled labour base in business and administration if we create the right framework conditions. It is now important to prepare the current and future generation of employees for working with AI and to support SMEs in the introduction of AI," says Christoph Schmidt, President of the RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research and member of the Future of Work, Human-Machine Interaction of Plattform Lernende Systeme.

The authors of the white paper recommend promoting a basic understanding of AI in schools, for example in computer science lessons. AI-based automation will also require the further qualification of today's employees. AI applications also require high-performance data and computing infrastructures, in which industry and the public sector should invest.

About the white paper

The white paper "Using AI to secure skilled labour. Solutions for automation, participation and knowledge transfer" was written by members of the Future of Work, Human-Machine Interaction working group of Plattform Lernende Systeme. It is available to download (in German)free of charge.

Further information:

Linda Treugut / Birgit Obermeier
Press and Public Relations

Lernende Systeme – Germany's Platform for Artificial Intelligence
Managing Office | c/o acatech
Karolinenplatz 4 | D - 80333 Munich

T.: +49 89/52 03 09-54 /-51
M.: +49 172/144 58-47 /-39

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