PwC China to train 25,000-strong workforce on generative AI

As China leads the way in AI development and regulation, PwC is going all in on the AI gamble investing US$420 million and training its 25,000 workers

Many companies are whole-heartedly embracing the AI opportunity, but few are committing their entire workforce to the relatively new technology.

Consultancy PwC China is going ‘all in’ on the AI gamble, announcing that all 25,000 employees are being mobilised to integrate what it calls Responsible AI to build trust.

Beijing-based PwC China says it will invest RMB3 billion (US$420 million) in AI over the next five years.

“Generative AI will accelerate China’s modernisation journey by creating higher-quality growth, while balancing safety and security,” said Raymund Chao, PwC Asia Pacific and China Chairman.

“All industries are set to be disrupted by AI, as well as the climate change transition, so leaders must adapt to ensure they are ready for the future.

Raymund Chao, PwC Asia Pacific and China Chairman says all industries are set to be disrupted by AI

“PwC’s use of Generative AI will be responsible and transformative. We are on a journey with a clear vision. We will empower all of our 25,000 solvers with the skills, tools, and technology to change the game for our clients – a responsible, truly human-led tech-powered approach.”

Transformation, whether by AI means or not, has been identified as essential by business leaders in China. PwC’s own 26th Annual CEO survey showed 67% of CEOs in Mainland China think their business will not be economically viable within a decade without serious transformation – a figure that is 28% higher than the global average. 

Diving deeper into the AI opportunity, only 14% of Chinese employees believe AI will not impact their job, but on a more positive note, 44% said AI would improve their productivity and efficiency. 

That data is from PwC’s Hopes and Fears 2023 report which also showed that Chinese employees are bullish about the potential for AI when compared to the rest of APAC respondents. Some 36% said AI would create opportunities to learn new skills, 29% said it would create new job opportunities, and 68% said digital skills are important for their career (versus 59% in APAC).

In order to meet this ambitious goal, PwC is accelerating the upskilling and reskilling of its workforce, investing in AI, and securing the AI talent of tomorrow.

So what does PwC mean by Responsible AI?

Responsible AI strategy

PwC’s views its Responsible AI strategy as an absolute commitment to regulatory compliance with China’s cyber and data security laws, data privacy, and AI regulations.

China was one of the first countries in the world to introduce regulations for generative AI.

Rules were announced by the Cyberspace Administration of China in July that take effect on 15 August, but rather than being seen as a crackdown, it appears Beijing is taking the view that generative AI could boost China’s economic growth.

PwC has acted fast to latch on to the new guidelines and make the most of the AI opportunity following this government endorsement. The consultancy says it will work with business partners and clients to develop Responsible AI frameworks and promote responsible and ethical application of AI, with an emphasis on compliance.

This is a wise stance. Chinese regulators are swift when it comes to technology crackdowns as the government strikes a balance between development and control. 

Take Alibaba’s Ant Group, for instance. On 10 July, regulators issued a US$985 million fine which some commentators believe could be the end of the crackdown on the tech firm which began in 2020 when its IPO was blocked by the Chinese government.


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