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Skill Sync: Bridging Europe’s AI skills gap

9th May 2024

In the rapidly changing landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) and deep tech, Skill Sync emerges as a pioneering tool designed to help overcome the skills gap stunting the development of Europe’s innovation sector.

Skill Sync is a one-stop solution for AI-based upskilling and competitiveness, addressing the pressing need for AI skills development within European Countries. It offers personalised course recommendations and identification of training opportunities for start-ups, SMEs, corporates, HR departments, universities, and policymakers.

With technical development led by EIT Health, Skill Sync has been created by the EIT Community’s AI team, a collaboration between seven Knowledge and Innovation Communities, and has quickly evolved from a concept to a community asset.

From simple database to personalised AI training recommendations

Skill Sync’s journey began with a straightforward objective: to analyse the available AI training courses in Europe and provide a one-stop-shop database of options for users to consider. The information corralled from the depths of the internet to build up the original database was immense, reviewed manually and painstakingly.

However, Dr. Magí Lluch-Ariet, data manager and analyst at EIT Health, was spurred on by his background in computer science and envisioned more for the tool. He firmly believed it was possible to use artificial intelligence to take Skill Sync from a simple database to a dynamic “matchmaking” service, providing personalised and up-to-date advice for users to build up their skillset effectively.

He was right.

Three years later, Skill Sync identifies missed learning opportunities and provides personalised training recommendations to a wide range of start-ups, SMEs, large corporations, and HR departments, as well as academic institutions and policymakers. Now, the database is even bigger and thanks to AI, is automatedly managed and analysed.

“Skill Sync focusses its upskilling analysis and recommendations to enable organisations and regions to become more competitive. Its focus is not in filling the gap of the most in-demand jobs, but on the skills that are needed to boost innovation,” Magí summarises.

But Skill Sync’s transformation and rapid meteoric rise belies the colossal human effort behind its success – and without the resources of the wider EIT Community, may never have progressed so rapidly.

It takes a village

Magí emphasises the importance of collaborating with other Knowledge and Innovation Communities that are part of the wider EIT Community on the creation of Skill Sync.

“Data collection was a joint effort by all KICs in the EIT Community,” he says, referring to the breadth of courses on offer that had to be aggregated into the original database. This was Skill Sync’s first challenge.

“The analysis is only as good as the data set available,” he explains. “And each KIC then provided additional sector expertise to expand Skill Sync’s scope and effectiveness.”

EIT Health spearheaded Skill Sync’s programme development while EIT Digital supported the tool’s expansion into cybersecurity and blockchain sectors, and EIT Food piloted programme assessments.

Aside from the initial challenge of quality data collection, Skill Sync also had to face the scepticism of potential database users. Once again, the EIT Community came in clutch – each KIC proposed a few partners, and in the end 14 organisations joined the Skill Sync pilot.

Their feedback was invaluable. One of the participants in the pilot, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, wanted to use Skill Sync to seek potential customers who might benefit from their specialised training programmes.

“This completely opened up the scope of the tool,” exclaims Magí. “What a surprise! It was totally unexpected.”

The results of the pilot underline the tool’s ethos of progress and learning. By integrating a comprehensive feedback process to glean insights from participants after pilot stages, Skill Sync is committed to improving and evolving to better meet the needs of users – and ensuring its own longevity in the process.

The Skill Sync universe expands

The EIT Community clearly believes in Skill Sync’s promise too – after initially allocating €65,000 to operationalise the tool in the first two years, budgets for 2024 have increased to €240,000. Now more funding sources are opening up to Skill Sync, including from other EU programmes like Horizon Europe.

EIT Community’s financial and human support in development stages have resulted in a current database of over 5,000 companies, another feather in Skill Sync’s hat. The tool’s ability to build the skills and capacity of AI actors is also evident in the 35,000 courses it analyses and the plethora of standardised profiles it creates.

On average, for each organisation that uses Skill Sync, 50 of their employees take up courses based on the platform’s recommendations. And by participating in Skill Sync, EIT Community’s own trainings are given new exposure, upping registration, and creating a positive feedback loop to further improve the educational opportunities it already provides users.

Magí has been blown away by the results so far: “What we achieved far surpassed our initial expectations. Now we have tens of thousands of references, compared to just the few hundreds or so we started with, generating incredible results and unlocking the power of data through AI.”

Magí emphasises that the long-term impact is yet to be fully known, but the tool’s dedication to following the progress of users speaks volumes. Soon Skill Sync will expand into all deep tech areas, from health to manufacturing, covering the entire spectrum of EIT Community’s Knowledge and Innovation Communities.

As Skill Sync, EIT Health and the wider EIT Community continue to shape the future of AI and deep tech innovation, they stand as a testament to the potential that can be unlocked through collaboration, dedication, and a commitment to upskilling the European workforce.

Whether you work in an academic or government institution, an SME, or a big corporation, don’t miss the opportunity to be among the first organisations to benefit from the upskilling recommendations offered by Skill Sync. Try out Skill Sync for yourself!

If you are a software development company that is interested in building a plug-in for Skill Sync, send your expression of interest to ai@eitcommunity.eu 

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