(Toronto) Recruiting companies will be looking for competent candidates in a strategic area: artificial intelligence (AI).

Finding professionals who can develop AI-based products or use them to increase productivity is a priority for technology organizations as the race to capitalize on AI heats up.

“Everyone is looking for people who understand how to use AI,” says Jenny Yang, senior advisor at the MaRS innovation center in Toronto, which helps startups navigate the challenges of growing their business and going to market of their products.

“Some are companies that want to use ChatGPT (AI chatbot) themselves… and then there are companies that are really trying to hire data scientists in order to create AI products. »

A perusal of job postings shows, for example, that Porter Airlines recently sought an AI engineer in Toronto “to solve a wide range of complex problems” and that pharmaceutical giant Johnson

Many jobs focus on generative AI, a type of machine learning that can generate text, images, and other content. The popularity of this form of AI has exploded since the November 2022 release of ChatGPT, an OpenAI conversational agent that can quickly transform simple request responses into text form.

The arrival of ChatGPT started a race between tech giants, including Google and Microsoft, and inspired other companies to think about how the technology could transform their businesses.

Now, the job postings viewed show that many employers, including large corporations, startups, universities and law firms, have solicited applications for interns, consultants, engineers, scientists and writers with skills in AI and machine learning.

The impact of AI on hiring is still far from having reached its peak. Job search website Indeed found that generative AI was mentioned in 0.07% of Canadian job postings at the end of November.

However, 17% of machine learning engineer job postings in particular, what Indeed calls “the quintessential AI job,” and 5% of data scientist jobs mention generative AI.

In jobs for computer engineers and general developers, the term is appearing more and more, points out Brendon Bernard, senior economist at Indeed.

“I would be surprised if (mentioning generative AI in job postings) doesn’t become even more common,” he said.

Alik Sokolov, co-founder and CEO of Montreal-based AI investment management company Responsibli, has noted that more companies have become interested in AI over the past year, which is influencing some of the criteria required by companies when hiring.

“I think the skills in demand will be very different for someone looking for a job in 2024 compared to, say, me who started my career around 2013…” says Sokolov.

“Just looking at my resume when I was hired at Deloitte, I wouldn’t be hired at Deloitte today or at Responsibli. The bar is higher. »

Mr. Sokolov and Ms. Yang agree that data scientists with expertise in AI are more in demand these days, although developers are expected to be able to use AI.

“You no longer need to be a specialist with a doctorate,” replies Ms. Yang. I think even five years ago it was a more common request.

“Now you see more and more traditional software engineers creating AI products and this is due to the availability of more and more capable tools. »

Rob Toews, a partner at AI-focused venture capital firm Radical Ventures, predicts that AI experts will rise to the top management of large companies. Others believe that the writing profession will boom. These professionals are trained to put instructions into AI systems to get the desired and most effective responses.

Mr. Sokolov and Ms. Yang agree that the copywriting craze may be short-lived, because workers from a wide variety of backgrounds can easily learn to incorporate that expertise into their work with a little training or experimentation.

“We are not looking for a full-time copywriter, but rather copywriting is something that is done by almost everyone in our company to varying degrees,” notes Sokolov.

A September Deloitte study found that when analyzing per capita venture capital investments in AI, Canada ranks third among G7 countries, behind the United States and the Kingdom -United.

Over five years, Canada also recorded the highest average growth rate of all G7 countries in AI talent concentration between 2017 and last year, the report said.

However, Yang says she has recently seen some of the best data scientists leave Canada for the United States.

“There’s just more money, more opportunity, so we’re seeing a brain drain of AI talent,” she laments, noting that Amazon and other big tech companies can pay $500,000 $ per year to recruit the best AI data scientists.

“Large companies (in Canada) must have the means to recruit talent when demand is high. »