Inside PwC's push to train its workers on AI
- PwC plans to train 75,000 workers in the US and Mexico on artificial intelligence.
- The training comes as some new hires don't posses certain necessary tech skills.
PricewaterhouseCoopers is trying to weave AI into its DNA.
The accounting and consulting giant is rolling out training on artificial intelligence for 75,000 workers in the US and Mexico so they can find new ways to incorporate the technology into its business — and that of its customers.
"We want all of our people to be skilled on AI enough that they can have a conversation with the client — whether or not you're an associate or an experienced partner — so that you can identify opportunities for us to be able to go in and support that client and that AI transformation, as well as to be able to support the firm itself," Shannon Schuyler, US chief purpose and inclusion officer at PwC, told Insider.
The training is designed to teach partners and employees what AI is and how they can safely incorporate it into their work. After the initial round is complete, PwC plans to provide personalized training for certain teams and workers.
PwC's strategy to roll out monthly lessons for tens of thousands of employees points to what a big deal many business leaders expect AI and, in particular, generative AI will prove to be.
Yet despite the interest in GenAI, it's so new that there's not always enough expertise to go around. That's sending big companies, including the consulting giants, into a race to acquire expertise in AI and to train up their workforces.
At PwC, that means educating everyone from longtime employees to new hires who might be recent graduates. The effort is part of a plan announced in April to invest $1 billion over three years to expand the company's AI offerings — including GenAI.
Even some recent grads aren't tech savvy enough
PwC's AI push comes as some of its entry-level hires don't always possess all of the technical chops they need — and not just around AI.
"We have not seen the type of digital acumen that we would like from the individuals coming in," Schuyler said, noting that workers' skill levels vary and that some have strong technical knowledge. To help ensure workers have the necessary skills, the company puts new hires and even interns through training programs.
Schuyler said even some new hires with accounting, finance, and computer science degrees — people who have strong digital backgrounds — often aren't as experienced with, for example, some of the data-analytics software PwC uses.
New hires tend to be well versed in areas like search, but less so when it comes to tools like spreadsheets, Schuyler said. "They don't know how to use different types of applications that are out there," she said.
Part of the challenge for a company like PwC that tends to scoop up a lot of recent grads is that technology like GenAI is so new — at least in how it's being used to power tools like ChatGPT — that many universities are still working to incorporate GenAI into what they teach.
"It's not yet woven in — with any kind of sophistication — into the classes where we've seen it," Schuyler said.
A new lesson each month
The AI training at PwC will unfold in batches, with new lessons released each month, Yolanda Seals-Coffield, chief people officer at PwC US, said in email to Insider. Many of the lessons will be online — some will have a gaming aspect to them — and some of the instruction will involve having AI experts already among PwC's ranks share their knowledge with colleagues. The company will also conduct a live trivia game each month that will focus on the prior month's lessons.
The training will involve having some employees well versed in AI assist colleagues. Workers leading similar training efforts traditionally have been able "to get people up to speed who might have been a little bit behind," Schuyler said.
The goal when it comes to AI, Schuyler said, is to get 75,000 people within the company to "know how to use it and start to be able to comment on it in a very informed way."
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