Too many jobs, not enough people.

So what’s the way forward for AI?

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Too many jobs, not enough people.

So what’s the way forward for AI?

There is no doubt that technology is enjoying a massive, perhaps even an unprecedented boom. While other sectors of the economy are relatively stagnant, perhaps unnerved by the continuing uncertainty over Brexit, the technology industries are showing no sign of slowing up in their expansion.

And as I’ve found, as Head of Talent Acquisition at PROWLER.io, the recruitment sector in the technology field is very much a candidates’ market. There are many more employers chasing a smaller pool of candidates and that is why we have to do our very best to attract the right people.

A recent report from the management consultants Deloitte’s suggested that it takes an average of 52 days to find an appropriately qualified person for a particular job – and yet the best candidates stay on the market only for 10 days. Our challenge – and the challenge for any company in the sector, irrespective of size - is how we can actually target those individuals. Fortunately, we have a great deal going for us – a flat and enlightened management structure, excellent conditions and an office in Cambridge, at the very epicentre of the AI boom.

And we’re all conscious of that boom: AI has transformed the technological landscape, and the very words “Artificial Intelligence” amount to a buzz phrase. That may sound like a cliché, but many clichés are founded in reality: the world is fascinated by AI and its potential and it’s hardly a surprise that the best candidates in the technology sector want to explore the potential and the long-term rewards. In this field we are among those leading the way - and at PROWLER.io we are equipping our staff, our team with eminently exportable expertise.

So how do we compete? Obviously money and conditions are of crucial importance if we are to attract the best candidates. But PROWLER.io, here in Cambridge, is in a unique position to offer much more than that. The team is, though we say so ourselves, world-class: it is a relatively small staff, comprised of just over a hundred people and we are a real community. We are expanding at a fast pace, and already our team is extraordinarily diverse. Thirty different nationalities are represented here, and over 40 of them are PhDs.

Already, in a relatively short time frame, we have been fortunate enough to attract the cream of global AI talent. What is unusual about our company is that we have managed to prove that we are not imprisoned by a rigid, hierarchical management structure. Ours is a matrix organisation – flat and easy to negotiate. Even if you are a newcomer, it is easy to make a big impact quickly. All members of the team have easy access to Vishal Chatrath, co-founder and CEO of the company, and team members are mentored by close colleagues within their teams. And there are other benefits, too, that you wouldn’t necessarily find in other top-heavy, technology companies.

The relatively small size of the company means that the people we recruit do not disappear in a vast, sprawling bureaucracy. Apart from highly competitive salaries, the main benefits here are flexible working and remote working. We are also trying to address the lack of diversity in the tech industry – a problem that bedevils companies at every level, and in every sector. The international nature of our team proves that there are no ethnic or cultural barriers: and we are doing our utmost to make our team as gender-diverse as possible. The overall feel is one of collaboration, community, fun and friendship. Oh, and the work is very satisfying as well.

Gender diversity is a particular problem in the technology industry and it’s especially pronounced in this country. Women in general are not encouraged to seek careers in technology. We are way behind booming tech economies such as that of India; the proportion of women entering the technology sector is much greater there than it is in Europe. And of course recruiting women to these key roles is not simply about a desire for “equality” - it makes sound business sense. Encouraging more women to study technology and science will present employers with a larger pool of talent - and more choice in the people they recruit.

The Tech Talent Charter, which was launched in 2018 by tech businesses to promote gender diversity found on average in the UK that women only hold 19 per cent of the technical roles in organisations – and yet they represent about half the potential workforce. The good news at least is that 36 per cent of the corporate signatories to the tech charter now have policies in place to increase the number of women included in interview shortlists. A further 32 per cent say they will start to embrace these policies in the coming year.

Digital and Creative Industries Minister Margot James said more work was still needed: ‘One year on from the launch of the Tech Talent Charter, it’s encouraging to see that there’s real buy-in to improve the diversity of our workforce,’ she said. ‘However, with only one in five digital tech jobs nationally covered by women there is more work to do to get the balance right.”

So that is our challenge. And I for one will make sure we will do our very best to rise to it.

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