BofE Data Chief: Invest in Upskilling Non-Tech Staff in AI

The Bank of England’s data board chair urges upskilling for all employees, especially those over 40

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

March 6, 2024

2 Min Read
Photo of Lee Fulmer on stage
From left: Moderator Andrew McClelland and Lee FulmerBen Wodecki

At a Glance

  • The departing chair of the Bank of England’s Data Board urges companies to upskill all employees in AI, even non-tech staff.
  • Lee Fulmer said all employees probably uses ChatGPT anyway. Teaching them AI skills will make the company more productive.

Companies looking to adopt generative AI should spend part of their AI budget on upskilling their workforce – including non-technical staff − and fostering a culture of responsible AI adoption, according to the independent chair of the Bank of England's strategic Transforming Data Collection board.

“There is not a company on the planet where at least one employee does not have a ChatGPT account, whether there is company policy on how to use it or not,” said Lee Fulmer, at Tech Show London. “If your people are already doing this themselves, they are curious and they want to learn.”

Fulmer said businesses setting cash aside for generative AI projects should instead “invest some of that money back into the staff.”

He emphasized the importance of including those over 40 who may not be familiar with new technologies. Fulmer referenced the Singaporean government’s initiative to fund digital skills training for citizens in that age bracket.

He said the U.K. could leverage the Open University to make subsidized modules about emerging tech available.

“We need to start looking at how do we increase the access to the 65 million people in this country, not the six million people in the sector?"

Fulmer said that as the tools have become far more accessible today, increasingly those implementing them are non-technical as well.

“Most of the AI experts that I have come across have never written a line of code in their lives. They are the people who have managed tech deployments or manage the business where they see a great impact.”

Fulmer said that where data scientists were previously in demand, companies now want professionals with prompt engineering skills.

And contrary to expectations, good prompt engineers are literature majors or people familiar with the construction of language, he added.

“We are competing for talent, which is something we have been doing for a decade, … why not put [the budget] into the 90% of the population of the company who do not have any skills in using these tools?”

“People's jobs will naturally change, and the faster that we can get on board with helping our staff adapt, those are the companies that are actually going to be more productive.”

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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