China's shortfall in AI tech talent is estimated in the millions
Chinese article by 张杰
English Editor 张未名
09-15 15:41

(JW Insights) Sep 15 -- China faces a shortage of millions of artificial intelligence professionals just as generative AI projects kick into full gear, Nikkei Asia reported on September 14.

Angus Chen, head of AI staffing at Shanghai-based recruiting firm ManGo Associates, said, "Along with large tech companies, startups, financial firms and others are looking for superior AI talent."

Since the spring, large tech groups and other companies have announced they will work on developing generative AI. Beijing has started issuing approvals for AI services to operate under rules implemented on August 15.

After search giant Baidu made its Ernie Bot available to the public on August 31, the chatbot reportedly answered 33.42 million questions in the first 24 hours. That same day, AI developer SenseTime launched its SenseChat bot for the wider public.

This rush to release chatbots has fueled demand for specialists, elite or otherwise. Job postings in the AI content generation category, including those for algorithm engineers, ballooned 2.3-fold in the first half of 2023 compared with the year-earlier period, according to job search platform Liepin.

The average annual pay for those job postings exceeded RMB400,000($55,116), nearly doubling the RMB220,000 average seen in the new energy vehicle field.

The Chinese government had predicted a shortage of AI workers well before the generative AI boom. In 2020, the human resources ministry released a report quantifying the shortfall at 5 million people at the time.

The supply of AI professionals could only meet 10% of the demand, the report said. Unless there are increased efforts to train AI workers, the shortage will grow to more than 10 million workers in 2025, according to the ministry.

The application of AI in a wide spectrum of industries is driving the worker shortage. China is expected to invest $38.1 billion in AI in 2027, according to U.S. market intelligence firm IDC, or about triple the spending in 2022.

Wang Haifeng, Baidu's chief technology officer, said in January that there has been an AI talent shortfall of 5 million to 8 million over the past few years, but the company has trained over 3 million through various cooperative efforts.

China is on track to be short 4 million in AI talent in 2030, according to a report released in May by McKinsey & Co. The U.S. consultancy arrived at that number after foreseeing demand for skilled AI professionals grow sixfold from 2022 to 6 million workers, but the supply only reached 2 million in 2030, said the Nikkei Asia report.

(Yuan XY)

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