Skills Shortages Could Hamper AI Growth in Latin America

While there is much demand for artificial intelligence and applied analytics across Latin America, much-needed talent is lacking in the region, according to PwC.

Drawing on its own research in the Annual Global CEO Survey, PwC has bet on Latin America’s bullish expectations around artificial intelligence (AI) and the demand for services to support applied analytics with the launch of its Center for Artificial Intelligence and Applied Analytics for Latin America.

Based in Chile, the facility, which launched in September, has attracted a great deal of interest from businesses across various sectors that are looking to implemented AI and analytics at various levels.

But while demand for such services is intensifying, much-needed talent is lacking in the region.

Federico Morello, Partner and Advisory Leader at PwC Chile, told Nearshore Americas that there are currently about 20 data scientists working at the new center, but that they are looking to recruit much more.

“We are seeing a lot of demand from different countries, such as Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and from different clients with many projects,” Morello says.

In Peru, their core focus is on the mining industry and other heavy industries where predictive maintenance, for example, is in demand. Other sectors that span the region are financial services and retail.

In February, PwC published a report on the imperatives for becoming an AI-ready healthcare business.

Finding this much-needed talent, though, is not easy, and it is not only Chile that lacks the skills that Morello and PwC are looking for. Across Latin America, there is growing demand for data scientists and other skilled professionals who can add value to AI and analytics, but finding such talent can prove tricky, Morello says.

“It’s really difficult to find the people we need. We are not the only company trying to hire these types of professionals. We are seeing a lot of demand from the financial industry and from Telcos as well,” he adds.

Federico Morello, Partner and Advisory Leader at PwC Chile.

Morello says there are not enough universities developing these professionals, so PwC is opting for a different approach, by bringing in less experienced employees and training them in-house so that they develop the kinds of skills that are needed.

He believes that there is hope for a new generation of skilled workers who can contribute to the fields of AI and applied analytics because there is more interest in these types of careers among the younger generations.

Morello says he is seeing a change in the way schools and universities approach the teaching of technology subjects.

That’s a long-term benefit, though, and in the short to medium term, skills shortages will continue.

“We have a lot of work to do and not enough professionals. It’s a problem not just for Latin America or Chile, but all of the world,” he says.

Although the AI center is reaping the benefits of what automation can offer, and offering services that speak to the use of AI and analytics, Morello believes that any investment in such technologies also needs to consider the ethical implications of such a move.

“It’s true that it will have an impact in terms of labor costs. A lot of people could lose their jobs, and work could be automated. That’s one of the ethical issues that we have to consider, but it’s not the only one. We also need to consider circumstances in which machines will be asked to make moral decisions, such as in the case of autonomous vehicles.”

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He adds that there are many good things about AI, too, such as improved productivity, and it is important to consider all aspects of such implementation.

“There is a great opportunity; over the next five years we will see the dramatic impact of these new technologies in all the world, and the challenge will be how to deal with this new tech.”

 

 

 

 

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