Artificial intelligence is an area of work that requires huge amounts of human interaction in the early stages. China’s aspirations to become the leading light of the global race for artificial intelligence (AI) might be hampered by its ability to grow a talent base of artificial intelligence workers with enough speed to meet the demand from companies.

SwissCognitiveAccording to a report by South China Morning Post , there are only an estimated 300,000 people in the work with enough skills and experience in the subsector of computer science that forms the basis of artificial intelligence technology. That’s not nearly enough to meet demands for AI experts which a recent Tencent Research report said numbers in the millions.

Lack of Talents

LinkedIn said that in March 2017 it had recorded more than 1.9 AI workers in its worldwide database, though the majority of those workers are based in the United States. China isn’t attracting nearly enough of them — the People’s Republic is currently ranked seventh in the world in terms of volume (50,000 workers) and lags behind the United Kingdom, Canada, and India.

Now, as more and more local companies are experimenting with artificial intelligence the demand will only rise. A report from the People’s Daily cited comments from education vice president of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Zhou Ming, who said that demand may rise to as much as 5 million in the near future.

Jobs yes, applicants no

Currently, the majority of the AI talent in the country has been imported from overseas as there isn’t enough of a homegrown well-spring to feed its thirst for talent. “Many Chinese tech companies now visit top universities and headhunting firms on a regular basis, keeping an eye out and learning about the market. Their overseas recruitment plans would even have no limit when it comes to headcount or budget,” said Willis Towers Watson managing director Edward Hsu, to SCMP.

Without available talent many positions all across the mainland have gone unfulfilled with roughly 90 percent of jobs being vacant, based off LinkedIn data. Despite the number of AI jobs rising eight-fold in the last three years, there aren’t enough people to fill those positions.  […]