A lot has been written about the potential of ChatGPT and other AI tools proliferating into every aspect of society. One of the biggest questions, of course, is how this technology will affect jobs. More importantly, how can society leverage innovation to not only enhance people’s capabilities but also create roles that currently don’t exist?
We stand more to gain than to lose
With each technological revolution has come waves of labor market disruption but also opportunities for growth. PwC predicts AI has the potential to add $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. According to the World Economic Forum, 97 million new roles may emerge by 2025, compared with the obsolescence of 85 million jobs during that time. This net gain of 12 million jobs will require new competencies, updated skills and a different approach to work.
Many employers are currently investigating how AI can transform their organization by improving productivity, enhancing the quality of their output, or both. People will be able to offload repetitive, time-consuming tasks so they can focus on high-value, creative ones that add more value to their organizations. Through such efforts, companies are poised to become more efficient, innovative and steadfast — all goals that generative AI can contribute toward in the days ahead. For certain we will redefine work and how it gets done.
At the same time, companies should be deliberate in their approach. New technology is by its nature disruptive, and that means people affected by it will need support and time to acclimate to change. To introduce ChatGPT or similar tools into the workplace, employers need well-designed and impactful skilling programs to ensure effective adoption. ChatGPT has the potential to significantly improve knowledge management, HR & recruitment, learning and development, customer service, and nearly anything involving the creation and editing of content.
Human connection is irreplaceable
HR and business leaders should understand the limitations of ChatGPT. While it can handle basic tasks, it is not a substitute for human interaction and may struggle with complex tasks. Businesses must take measures to ensure it is used ethically and fairly and monitor any biases with human oversight. The best approach is to start small and expand. Develop prototypes and train people on these. Communicate and involve employees early on. Repurposing the skills of those who may be displaced should be a coordinated and sustained effort.
For instance, when the pandemic shut down airline operations, flight crews were retrained to work in roles where their people skills were needed, including medical assistants and similar jobs. Such programs provided alternative, sustainable career pathways. Identifying people’s irreplaceable skills and redeploying them to appropriate alternative roles should be a priority for policymakers and employers.
The importance of reskilling the global workforce can’t be overstated. The global economy is on the cusp of a tremendous technological step forward — one that is potentially life changing for many. Jobs will be created and transformed. Businesses will operate in new ways. Economic growth and productivity will rise. But society must be ready.
Talent stands ready to embrace the tech
Fortunately, workers have already anticipated what’s coming, and research shows they welcome support for transitioning to new roles. For 20 years, Randstad research has gauged the sentiments of talent toward technology and its impact on jobs, among other labor market issues. Consistently, data shows people are interested in learning and developing so they can stay ahead of the technology curve. In fact, more than half (53%) of those surveyed in the 2023 Workmonitor Report want to be retrained for a new role or to develop in their existing one.
With AI rapidly advancing and expanding in the global economy, capitalizing on workers’ strong desire for more training and development should be a mandate for all. Policymakers should coordinate efforts with the private sector to ensure that no one is left behind in the next industrial revolution. Employers can mitigate the issue of talent scarcity by regularly upskilling their workforce according to business needs. And individual workers should embrace the idea of lifelong learning that will ultimately build on their knowledge and earning potential.
Like many innovations that have gone before it, AI will evolve to make greater contributions to the global economy and society at large. This journey, however, will require tremendous human governance and collaboration, which means new jobs in many disciplines such as data science, natural language processing, statistics and others. Facilitating the global workforce to develop such skills will help us more quickly deliver on the promise of an AI-powered world and advance the world of work.
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