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UK workers with AI skills get 14% wage premium, research suggests

UK employers are willing to pay a 14% wage premium for roles requiring AI skills amid rapid growth in the industry, according to data.

PwC’s inaugural global AI jobs barometer highlighted a continued surge in job postings requiring AI skills as many employers seek to benefit from the fast-changing technology.

The report, which analysed half a billion job adverts from 15 countries, found UK postings for jobs which require AI skills, such as for machine learning, have grown 3.6 times faster than for all other jobs.

In 2012, around three in 1,000 job posts in the UK required AI skills, but jumped to nine in 1,000 jobs by 2023.

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This was also slightly faster than the global growth in AI job vacancies, PwC found.

It also found significant improvements in the rate of productivity in sectors with particular recent exposure to AI skills.

Barret Kupelian, chief economist at PwC UK, said: “Our findings show that AI has the power to create new industries, transform the jobs market and potentially push up productivity growth rates.

“In terms of the economic impact, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg – currently our findings suggest that the adoption of AI is concentrated in a few sectors of the economy, but once the technology improves and diffuses across other sectors of the economy, the future potential could be transformative.”

The report also highlighted that jobs requiring AI specialist skills have the opportunity for higher earnings, with a 14% average wage premium in the UK.

It highlighted that job adverts for lawyers with AI skills typically had a 27% wage premium.

AI skills are most strongly valued by employers in the US, where there is an average premium of 25% for those with AI skills.

Mr Kupelian added: “Countries and sectors that have a high demand for AI skills tend to see higher wage premiums, especially if there is a scarcity of skilled professionals, whereas in areas where there is a more abundant supply of AI talent, lower premiums are more likely.

“Although on the surface lower wage premiums may sound less favourable, all else being equal, they suggest a balance between labour supply and demand, and could potentially foster greater AI adoption and innovation over the long term.”