Strong Demand for AI-Focused Workforce Skills, Analysis of Online Platform Finds

Contributing Writer

Educators — and ed-tech companies — are preparing for how artificial intelligence will potentially reshape classroom learning and the workforce.

A report from online course provider Udemy offers a glimpse of how demand for learning how to harness the power of generative AI has boomed since the launch of the generative AI tool ChatGPT in late 2022. 

According to the report, education was listed as one of the top 10 industries where companies and organizations are tapping into Udemy courses related to the generative AI chatbot. 

Udemy started offering courses about ChatGPT 11 days after it launched in November 2022, said Scott Rogers, senior vice president of supply strategy at Udemy. 

Since then, demand has boomed, he said: In the past year, instructors on the platform have published more than 1,300 courses related to ChatGPT, and more than 2.4 million learners have enrolled in those online classes.

The top 10 overall industries from which Udemy users are seeking out AI-focused courses are professional services; consulting services; technology; manufacturing; retail; financial services; entertainment and media; education; government; and life sciences. Udemy told EdWeek Market Brief that it does not have data on what portion of the AI course enrollees are students at the college or pre-college levels, or working in companies serving schools. 

“With ChatGPT, and generative AI, we didn’t go into it with assumptions, but it was a phenomenal explosion,” Rogers said. “What we’re seeing is continued growth around ChatGPT courses and enrollment.” 

ChatGPT is one of the most advanced versions of generative AI made available to the public so far. It has prompted discussion about to what extent AI should be used in classrooms. Educators and advocacy organizations are weighing potential benefits and pitfalls, and how restrictive or encouraging of the technology they should be.

The report says the surge in published courses and enrollment over the last year shows that learners have a “tremendous appetite” for acquiring generative AI skills. 

Across Languages, Regions

For education companies, the need to upskill workers or identify new employees trained in generative AI is becoming increasingly important. 

Companies are scrambling to create and fill a variety of new roles that require skill in AI, as EdWeek Market Brief reported recently. They’re looking for engineers with expertise in machine learning, workers with the ability to manage large datasets and run analytics, and data scientists who can develop algorithms and create automated insight reports.

Organizations also see more holistic skills, such as communication and the ability to collaborate in generating ideas, as essential skills for AI-focused jobs.

Education companies are “ensuring that the human application piece is there — the softer skills that [candidates] may not be learning in classrooms,” said Lindsay Powers, the chief people officer for Discovery Education, said in the story. “Because it’s really the humans that are delivering it at the end of the day.”

In addition to seeing the potential to use generative AI in classrooms, many education company officials believe ChatGPT and similar tools could power work in areas such as customer service, marketing, and sales. 

Founded in 2010, Udemy allows instructors to create online classes in a variety of formats. Many of those classes are focused on business skill development, though its courses have many other areas of focus, from language acquisition to leadership.

According to the report, Udemy ChatGPT courses have been developed in 25 languages, with the highest number of learners enrolled in courses from from India, the U.S., Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. 

Over the six months or so that Udemy started offering ChatGPT upskilling courses, the classes have mostly focused on areas such as AI art and image creation, content generation, and ChatGPT prompts. Another big focus area for courses, said Rogers, was ethical use of ChatGPT. 

“That remains a really important topic that learners want to know about,” he said. 

More recently, Rogers said Udemy is seeing learners move to more advanced course topics as “deeper prompts and engineering bootcamps,” along with developing ChatGPT applications. 

As companies and individual learners gain more expertise in ChatGPT, some of the course offerings are not only getting more sophisticated but more diverse. 

Rogers said there’s been an uptick in ChatGPT learning revolving around what he called “role-based skills,” to improve a learner’s ability to perform in areas including marketing and sales. 

That means marketing and sales professionals are taking ChatGPT courses to learn how to “summarize industry research, create social media posts, or use it to write scripts for cold emailing or to generally improve their sales copy,” he said.

Image by Getty.

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