6 min Applications

UiPath aims to address automation skills gap

UiPath aims to address automation skills gap

Technology advances continuously, but its sometimes steady, sometimes staccato and sometimes seemingly syncopated rhythm of advancement does not always match the skills base of human users who need to interact with its form, fabric and functionalities. It’s not unusual to see technology progress out of step with users’ capabilities and their wider comprehension of the power on offer.

If this reality is true in any subset of the IT stratosphere, then it is a surely factor in the more powerful, complex and sometimes even esoteric platforms, applications and services that we are building today. One of those areas is automation. Stemming from (and now progressing above and beyond) the initial work that we have known thus far as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), today we talk about automation in a more business-specific sense as it now encompasses the realm of generative Artificial Intelligence (gen-AI) and its deployment in real-time technology stacks.

Sensitive to the need to support and provide the global skills base that comes into contact with automation as a whole is enterprise automation company UiPath. The company used the latest iteration of its annual user, practitioner and partner event in Las Vegas this month to detail the next evolution of UiPath Academy, a free and open online training platform for automation professionals.

1.6 million served

Spanning what it claims to currently be the needs of some 1.6 million ‘learners’ today, UiPath Academy is now bringing tailored specialised AI training curricula and certification to its learning community. It’s all part of what the company says is a dedication to ‘upskill and reskill’ all generations of workers and equip them with skills needed for real-world automation and AI projects at work.

UiPath defines specialised AI solutions as those that incorporate models that enable customers to understand and interpret screens, mine tasks, process documents and utilise proprietary data sets within enterprise workflows. Going further, UiPath also specifies that specialised AI can be trained with a customer’s data and optimised for its (often secured and mission-critical) specific needs. Sometimes called private AI, sometimes called Small Language Model (SLM) AI and sometimes known as some variant of specialised AI as defined here, the end result is accurate, speedy AI-centric software services that are more tailored to specific needs and which are more cost-effective to operate.

According to assessments made in an IDC Vendor Spotlight report, sponsored by UiPath, Closing the AI and Automation Skill Gap in Modern Enterprises with Outcome-Focused Training and Certification, October 2023, executives at large enterprises across the globe are facing pressures around adopting AI, addressing ever-increasing data complexity and managing a growing skills gap. The report suggests that around half of businesses in North America (a figure that should reflect and resonate quite closely with Western Europe) have insufficient skills to drive successful automation implementations. Further, close to three-quarters (70%) of global organisations have achieved less than 50% progress in fulfilling their front-office business automation objectives.

Why the skills gap?

Despite the growing need for reskilling and job training, educational opportunities and training are not easily available or accessible for most people. Why? It is likely down to a combination of factors including the fact that a) many formalised software engineering education syllabuses and curricula do not yet feature enough automation modules b) we are still at a point of evolving standards and technology platforms have been shaken by the need to embrace generative AI this year in particular and c) this is essentially still ‘new’ technology to many. In answer then, UiPath says it is committed to investing in the future workforce through its UiPath Academy, which is focused on training and reskilling for the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow.

“We’re experiencing a technological paradigm shift that necessitates changes in the workforce, particularly in automation and AI. While companies seek to automate processes across the enterprise, the talent pool required to manage new AI capabilities is still shallow,” said Hedley Potts, UiPath vice president of customer experience & enablement. “That’s why UiPath is constantly investing in our learning and enablement capabilities. These enhancements to our training and certification programs further our commitment to empowering people with the in-demand automation and AI skills to succeed in newly emerging careers and remain competitive in their current roles.”

In addition to the new specialised AI curriculum and certification, UiPath Academy has evolved to now include offerings encompassing gen-AI, roles-based career path definitions as well as community and certifications-focused developments.

UiPath has introduced a generative AI tool in the form of a personal career guidance survey. This tool is hoped to help people learn about their ideal role in automation based on their background and interests and take into consideration a person’s unique strengths and ambitions. The tool takes the user’s input and suggests an automation role to pursue.

Job roles defined: automation engineers

To provide users with an understanding of the world of automation and AI, UiPath has prepared documentation on each of its core roles, including automation developer, business analyst, solution architect, infrastructure engineer and specialized AI professional. People seeking skills in this space can also immerse themselves in a community that includes UiPath Forum discussions and the company’s UiPath Community as a whole with its certifications.

UiPath Forward attendees were offered an opportunity to get certified for free during the Las Vegas event this year in the following roles: UiPath Automation Developer Associate, UiPath Automation Developer Professional, UiPath Automation Business Analyst and UiPath Specialist AI Professional. The company is also launching an “Elevate Your Skills Program,” a 10-day learning sprint for professionals who want to develop automation and AI skills.

An orange ball holding a magnifying glass.

Given the work undertaken here then, will automation skills be in a better state this time next year? The answer is of course yes, they must naturally be due to the wider progression of skills not just on the UiPath platform but across all automation specialists from those that still use the term RPA to those that prefer to talk about some more cerebral-sounding form of autonomous IT management fabric that spans everything from core database maintenance functions and moves upwards to the User Interface (UI) level where apps and people exist. Will that be enough automation skilling-up for the industry and for business as a whole? The answer is of course no. We have some way to go and we need to think about how we engineer the new breed of workplace intelligence into the workplace. Speaking to Systems Integrators (SI) professionals at the welcoming party (without mentioning any names), it seems clear that many organisations today have fairly ‘messy’ IT deployments and so, logically, they don’t always want to hear about the advantages that an automation platform can bring them because it might cause too much upheaval – there’s a skills and learning challenge here for everyone and at least UiPath appears to be addressing the whole challenge directly.