Is the workforce ready for AI?

AI could contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy and increase GDP in local economies by up to 26% by 2030, according to PwC’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study. But what impact will it have on the workforce, and are workers ready?

Here, we discuss how the adoption of AI will affect employees, the benefits and challenges it presents, and what organisations can do to prepare.

Moving towards a skills-based approach

As AI continues to take over repetitive tasks, human skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and subject matter expertise will become increasingly valuable to ensure the technology is used effectively. The shift towards a skills-based approach is already evident, with some organisations removing traditional hierarchies and viewing roles as a collection of skills, rather than a job description or title. However, our Hopes and Fears workforce sentiment survey reveals many workers feel employers are continuing to overlook human skills and are overly focused on qualifications and job history. From hiring practices to development processes, businesses need to adopt a skills-based approach to build a workforce able to unlock the potential of AI. But this starts with a clear workforce strategy that maps out the gaps and the interventions required.

Fewer opportunities to learn on the job

If AI handles entry-level tasks, junior employees could struggle to find opportunities to gain the practical skills and experience crucial for career development, and a new approach to learning and development will be necessary to prevent a widening skills gap. Educational institutions may need to adapt their courses to provide learners with the foundational skills required to enter the workforce and thrive, and learning and development professionals will need to build training programmes that provide the specific skills needed within their organisation.

Improving workplace diversity

Businesses that harness AI have an opportunity to cultivate a more inclusive and diverse workforce. In our interview with Sheridan Ash, Founder and Co-CEO of Tech She Can, she emphasises the potential for employees to acquire advanced tech skills within a relatively short span of four to six months. The accessibility of these skills could open up a range of industries which have historically demanded a limited range of backgrounds and qualifications. But it's also important to consider the potential challenges and risks that may arise when AI is employed to support or make workforce decisions, as it could inadvertently introduce biases. Training on the ethical use of AI is essential to address this issue, particularly for individuals using it to support hiring and career advancement decisions.

Navigating risks

A whole new set of AI usage and ethical rules will be required as AI-generated content is used in the workplace, with differing levels of human review. HR and technology leaders will need to work together to develop clear guidelines for how AI is implemented across the workforce, how its usage will be measured and recognised, and how the guidelines will be enforced.

Looking out at the vast potential of AI, it's worth remembering every great innovation creates opportunity. As businesses become AI-enabled, HR leaders have an opportunity to drive the conversation, lead the way, and build the ‘human-led, tech-powered’ workforce of the future.

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