Research event

The SkillScale project: The growing premium of AI skills

A presentation by Dr. Fabian Stephany (University of Oxford). This event is part of the Digital Governance Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Digital Governance.

The global workforce is urged to constantly learn, as technology tremendously changes the demand for skills. The SkillScale project ( leads into a new domain of labour market research illustrating how the analysis of digital labour market data can help us understand the nature and relevance of new skills. Recent work explores the concept of skill complementarity as a key determinant of economic value, as we unveil the profound influence of complementarity, highlighting how a skill's value hinges on its ability to synergise with other high-value competencies. The relative value of skills depends on an individual's existing skill background, with most skills proving most valuable when combined with those of a different nature. In the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI), we find that AI skills emerge as particularly valuable, offering significant average wage premium across sectors. Further work underscores the potential of skill-based hiring practices, which employers in the AI sector have increasingly adopted, potentially expanding the talent pool and fostering hiring flexibility. Notably, our analysis reveals that individual skills, rather than formal qualifications, now define job advertisements for AI roles, elucidating the substantial salary premiums in this domain. Most recently, we examine the added value of AI skills for specialist and generalist workers to find that AI competencies amplify the premium that specialised skill sets already have on the labour market. Ultimately, the findings of the project allow us to establish a contemporary taxonomy of skills, understand their application and support individual and far-sighted suggestions on sustainable re-skilling and training in a time of technological disruption.

Fabian Stephany is a Assistant Professor (Oxford: Departmental Research Lecturer) in AI & Work at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), University of Oxford, a Research Affiliate at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin and a Fellow at the Brussels-based Think Tank Bruegel. Leading the SkillScale Project, Fabian investigates the emergence of new skills and sustainability of novel occupations in times of technological disruption. He is a co-creator of the Online Labour Observatory – a digital data hub, hosted by the OII and the International Labour Organisation, for researchers, policy makers, journalists, and the public interested in online platform work. His research has been published in leading academic journals and was covered by Washington Post, The New York Times, The Telegraph, The Statesman, Nikkei Asia, and other popular media around the world. Fabian holds a PhD and degrees in Economics and Social Sciences from different European institutions, including Universitá Bocconi Milan and University of Cambridge. As an Economist and Senior Data Scientist, Fabian has been working in the private sector and for various actors in the international policy landscape, such as the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank or the OECD in Paris.

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