Recent LinkedIn data shows that, while a majority of tech talent in Canada are excited to leverage AI, more than half still want to be more familiarized with the tech before fully embracing it.
Canada launched the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy in 2017, building on the nation’s history of investments in the tech and resulting in a 2021 federal budget commitment of $185 million in spending on AI over five years.
But despite early leadership in the space, Canada lags behind many other OECD countries, ranking below the global average in 20th place, according to data gathered by the Toronto Metropolitan University’s think tank, the Dais.
“With all the breathless news coverage and raging debate surrounding artificial intelligence in recent months, it would not be unreasonable to think that the age of AI has already arrived for Canadian businesses,” declared Angus Lockhart, author of the Dais report. “The promise of artificial intelligence has long been its potential to make an economy more productive, increasing wages and living standards for all . . . Unfortunately, Canada lags behind.”
Two-thirds of Canadian businesses who have not adopted AI say that they have not been able to make a business case for the tech, while others don’t know what AI tools are available on the market.
Meanwhile, a recent Angus Reid poll conducted on behalf of tech stack titan Salesforce found that, while roughly two-thirds of Canadian professionals believe AI can improve their work or the work of their company, barely one-quarter said their employer offered any sort of AI training.
It is believed that the eventual adoption of AI tech is inevitable for many firms, however, as leveraging the tech may become necessary to remain competitive in an AI-dominant future.
In an interview with David Ard at Dreamforce, the senior Vice President of Employee Success for Salesforce likened the launch of AI tech within an enterprise to lightning in a bottle—once the process has begun, there is no going back to a company’s old ways.
To stay ahead of this curve, he suggests that businesses should actively consider a skills training overhaul, because once firms make the decision to adopt AI, they still need to develop in-house capabilities to use such tools.
Going further down this road, some feel that skills training could one day replace traditional education methods; others feel we may already be there.
One longtime Trailblazer within Salesforce’s Trailhead community believes that verified digital credentials should carry as much weight as conventional college degrees, considering remote skilling programs are typically skill-specific and hands-on.
Upskilling is more practical than traditional post-secondary education, he noted; and cheaper, too. Only the stigma around alternative training approaches needs to change.
If your employer is slow to adopt AI, experts recommend training yourself in AI skills in the meantime to remain in possession of a coveted professional toolkit. Upskilling organizations based in Canada include Uvaro, Palette Skills, and Lighthouse Labs.
The Trailblazer said he won’t pressure his son, 8, in either direction—but fully expects that, when the time to choose an education path does come, there will be more equally viable options than today.