A survey has found that Korea lags behind China and Japan in terms of the quality and quantity of artificial intelligence (AI) researchers.
The Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) under the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) said on Dec. 15 that it has found that Korea’s human resources competitiveness in the AI sector was half of the level of the United States.
KERI conducted the survey last year on 30 experts in Korean industrial, academic and research communities.
The institute said Korean AI researchers’ competitiveness was 5.2 against 10 of the United States, which leads the global AI industry. The levels of Japan and China were 6.0 and 8.1, respectively. This means that Korea's AI competitiveness ranked lower than that of Japan and China.
“At the same time, although AI-related human resources are fostered in Korea, they prefer to work in the United States, Europe or China since there are more opportunities in these countries,” KERI said.
Regarding the shortage rate of AI researchers in Korea, 20.7 percent of those surveyed cited 50 percent to 59 percent. They said that Korea suffered a 60.6 percent shortage of AI workforce on average, which means that only four AI researchers are supplied for every 10 required.
The most common method for fostering and securing AI specialists in Korea was to hire Korean and overseas master’s and doctorial degree holders, said 89.3 percent of the respondents who were allowed to choose one or more items. Following it was AI education (75.0 percent) for those already employed by companies and AI specialist program development with universities and colleges (46.4 percent). Korean companies need to acquire Korean or foreign AI companies or establish and acquire research institutes abroad to foster and secure AI engineers, 17.9 percent of them said. The Korea Economic Research Institute said that in actuality, global companies such as Amazon and Google and major Korean companies such as Samsung Electronics and Naver were recruiting AI specialist by taking over companies with researchers who could immediately collaborate with them or establishing overseas research institutes.
According to the results of the survey, the most common difficult thing to secure AI human resources was a lack of practical technical manpower (36.7 percent). The second most common reason was that it was difficult to pay salaries at the level of those in advanced countries (25.5 percent).
The most needed things for Korean AI talent development, the respondents said, were expanding educational infrastructure (37.8 percent); the easing of regulations that scotch technological innovation and the creation of new industries (21.1 percent); systematic support for AI-related startups, and AI human resources development by companies (13.3 percent); and creating a working environment and a corporate culture for attracting AI talent (12.2 percent).