Skills for the AI future
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Skills for the AI future

Creativity tops the list of must-have talents, but few organisations have solid strategies, say Microsoft and IDC

Microsoft organised #MakeWhatsNext to encourage young women in STEM.
Microsoft organised #MakeWhatsNext to encourage young women in STEM.

Only 20% of Thai organisations have carried out comprehensive plans to develop their workforce for the era of artificial intelligence (AI), according to a study by Microsoft and IDC.

The companies said their survey of 101 business organisations in Thailand revealed key gaps in available and in-demand skills across the workforce as the country continues its progress into a future driven by AI.

Significantly, almost half of the businesses surveyed had yet to carry out any workforce skills development plan to take advantage of the capabilities of AI.

"It is increasingly difficult to think of any job or field that is untouched by technology. Many students today will graduate into a job market full of roles that do not even exist today," said Dhanawat Suthumpun, managing director of Microsoft Thailand.

"With many businesses already interested in the potential of AI to drive their capabilities to new heights, it is vital they also invest their people to create lasting, sustainable change."

The Microsoft-IDC study showed only 20% of Thai businesses have developed and fully implemented comprehensive plans to build a truly AI-ready workforce, while 32% have begun partial implementation of their plans.

However, 48% have yet to take any action, with 21% having no plans to do so.

"We also saw strong recognition and relatively widespread recognition of the workforce as an important element for the future of businesses," said Michael Araneta, associate vice-president of IDC Financial Insights.

Some 77% of businesses surveyed indicated they would at least invest evenly on employee skills and AI, he said.

"Companies and their employees are in agreement over the employer's central role in re-skilling the workforce, with 93% of business leaders and 89% of employees stating the organisation must take the lead in this regard," said Mr Araneta.

Both sides also share the same perspective when it comes to the future impact of AI on their jobs: 77% of business leaders and 58% of workers expect the technology to empower them to perform better or more efficiently in their roles, while 13% of leaders and 19% of workers foresee the emergence of new, knowledge-based jobs.

Only 5% of business leaders and 13% of workers believe that AI will take over jobs previously done by humans.


Survey respondents named creativity (52%), digital skills (51%), and analytical or statistical skills (50%) as the most valuable skills for employees in the future.

They predict these three skills as well as the ability to carry out scientific R&D will be in short supply over the next three years.

Mr Araneta said there was a significant gap between the expectations of business leaders and employees in choosing important skills to develop for the future.

"Executives in Thai organisations believe a strong workforce will need more than just technical skills, with project management [16% difference], leadership and people management [14% difference], and creativity [13% difference] the three skills with the highest gaps between leadership and employee perspectives on their importance," he said.

Employees also feel more sceptical about their organisations' cultural readiness for AI adoption, with 72% of employees believing they are not empowered to take risks, make decisions or work with speed and agility, while 45% perceive a lack of drive from company leadership to innovate proactively.

For more information on Microsoft's AI platform, visit

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