AI & ML – Trends in Recruitment

At European Recruitment, we’ve noticed a dramatic shift towards AI and Machine learning (ML); in fact, 70% of our focus has been on these new roles over the last three years. In this article, we map out the trends shaping the drivers for employers hiring and the new breed of professionals turning data into valuable insights that are either driving efficiencies, increasing profits or saving lives.

Trend One - The Breadth of Companies and Organisations Harnessing AI

Across Europe, we've noticed organisations hiring AI/ML professionals fall into three categories:

  1. The traditional technology and communications companies with oceans of data and a culture of tech innovation.
  2. More traditional organisations that are not recognised as digital or technology companies, such as healthcare and the auto industry.
  3. New AI/ML start-ups providing both the software, consulting and services companies are using to start or enhance their AI efforts.

 

Surprisingly, we’re seeing both the tech companies and more traditional players adopt similar strategies when setting up their AI teams. The trend is towards creating either research labs or AI Centres of Excellence (COE).  For example, one of our clients within semi-conductors has set up a research lab which is independent of the traditional functions, tasked with improving products.  Of course, these teams still work closely with Product teams and the existing IT/data functions.

As for the Start-ups, we've seen a considerable amount of VC money pouring in; these unknown new brands are often operating in stealth mode, which makes attracting talent harder. But with the buoyant market attracting considerable finance, the equity offers for new jones is undoubtedly appealing.

Hiring Tip: 

For Start-ups, we believe embedding an exclusive agency is the best way to attract the right AI talent, as it will allow you to inform them about your roadmap and brand. Not only that, but they can act as evangelists and ambassadors in the marketplace for you, allowing you to focus on the product and internal topics. We have seen this approach result in massive growth with start-ups we have partnered with, with one particular client being acquired by a US multinational.

Trend Two - The Skills and the Paths to Them

When building an AI/ML Team or COE, there's a blend of traditional tech roles from software developers to data engineers, but the stars that make the AI magic happen are those with a strong academic background including PhDs and MSc degrees. These vary from Mathematics, Statisticians to actual AI PhDs or MScs.

When seeking these experts, we've found clients exploring three paths: academics involved in basic research; professionals employed in research labs – and increasingly because of the skills shortage – data scientists that are re-training. To support re-training, universities are now offering part-time AI courses.

 Hiring Tip:

To ensure the highest standard of AI expertise in your business, we would encourage companies to invest in self-development training for all staff, including supporting travel and access to conferences where the latest topics are being discussed with their research peers. On top of that, it’s crucial to be investing in the latest software licenses and tools for staff, while encouraging an open-source culture. This will not only accelerate learning and development but also benefit the company culture long-term.

Trend Three - Skills Shortage

The exponential increase in demand for skilled AI talent is limiting many organisation's AI ambitions. With the very best data scientists being snapped up globally by Silicon Valley, employers have to try even harder to attract the skills they need.

At European Recruitment, we're advising our clients around selling themselves better, with the most appealing team structures, job descriptions, and the remuneration packages needed to compete. In addition, we've noticed the projects and environments that are getting the most attention, and if you're a start-up in healthcare with lavish funding, equity options and a respected team making life-saving software and services, then you're in luck!

As mentioned earlier, companies are setting up research labs and COEs for AI/ML. These new vertical teams are attractive to newly minted PhDs because the culture, skills, projects and working practices will appeal to their skill and mindset.

Furthermore, for these COEs to succeed and become valued by an organisation, various aspects need to evolve, including:

      • Removal of data silos, with all sources of data easily accessible
      • A clear vision for the AI team
      • Full leadership support
      • Engagement with wider business or organisation to embed the results of the AI analysis and predictions. Along with re-assurance, their jobs are not at risk.

The rise of remote working is another trend to keep an eye on. The demand for skills is global so we’ve seen offers for people based in the UK offered full time roles in the USA with no need for them to leave their postcode. This working practice used to be a handy angle for smaller players but is now standard practice. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this post-lockdown.

Hiring Tips:

To summarise, it’s now more crucial than ever to  pay close attention to how you attract staff and how you sell yourself as a company. It is also worth considering restructuring your business or setting up research labs/COEs to appeal to more talent in this field.

In summary:

      • To set up a strong, efficient and successful AI team, it is a good idea to use an agency that is experienced in building teams from scratch. These agencies can offer guidance to both the client and also prospective candidates on the potential future growth, and also propose a suitable hiring plan.
      • While using an agency can be a good way to attract and engage talent as a brand ambassador, it’s also beneficial for the business themselves to have a clear product roadmap, and the intention to invest in their culture and working environment.
      • To an extent, solving the AI talent crisis by taking people from academia and transitioning them into a commercial environment does pose new challenges, due to the substantially different pace between the two sectors. However, if there is an understanding that research will remain a key criteria for development teams moving forward, this is usually a gap that can be bridged. Having an agency who are familiar with the long-term goal, will allow a company to attract the best from an academic setting – because competition to hire is fierce for the top graduates.
      • Some professionals do retrain in AI, perhaps moving from a computer science degree into software development. In fact, this is something that we see quite regularly, with Coursera and Udacity quite common topics of discussion with our candidates. This is why offering training and support to staff will encourage them to select your role.

If you'd like some advice or would like to understand how our services can help you to set up an AI & Machine Learning team please get in touch by calling +44 (0)1273 957 888 or email us at info@eu-recruit.com

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