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AI and jobs market: Is it a time for hope or fear?

While AI may not lead to a loss of jobs, research from LinkedIn suggests the rise of AI across the workforce is set to significantly transform many roles.

Will AI or robots take over? Image (C)Tim Sandle
Will AI or robots take over? Image (C)Tim Sandle

Will artificial intelligence lead to a significant loss of employment? This is the concern with many politicians, economists and workers. Much of the focus on AI and its impact on the labour market is based on a fear-driven narrative that “thinking machines” will eventually replace many of the routine tasks performed by humans.

Under the worse-case scenarios, AI is poised to profoundly change the global economy with advanced economies at greater risk of disruption.

One country with a strong technology sector is Canada. The extent of AI’s impact on the labour force in Canada has been assessed by HCLTech Canada. The assessment warns that companies need to focus less on downsizing and more on upskilling their workforce if they are to have success in the new era of AI.

HCLTech is a global IT brand; in Canada it employees more than 2,600 Canadians at global delivery centers in Mississauga, Edmonton, Vancouver and Moncton.

The HCLTech assessment is that if companies want to succeed, they need to move past fear and train staff to leverage rapidly evolving AI automation. Furthermore, the assessment indicates that without that basic level of competence, GenAI will not provide the sort of performance boost longevity that the technology is capable of delivering.

This approach is in keeping with the World Economic Forum (WEC) Future of Jobs Report findings. These indicate that many businesses are becoming more sceptical about the potential for artificial intelligence to fully automate work tasks.

It also stands that future expectations for automation are also being revised down, as markets climb the human-machine landscape more slowly than previously anticipated. In alignment with this, respondents to a WEC 2023 survey forecast that an additional 9 percent of operational tasks will be automated in the next five years – a reduction of five percentage points compared to expectations in 2020.

While AI may not lead to a loss of jobs, research from LinkedIn suggests the rise of AI across the workforce is set to significantly transform many roles, including replacing some current roles with new ones. Hence, more than half of all jobs, and the skills required to do all jobs will change by up to 65 percent by 2030.

“While there were fears that this tool could replace a large number of workers and lead to efficiencies, business leaders are now grasping that automation will expand much slower than expected and therefore we’ll see a smaller impact on the labour market,” HCLTech Canada country leader Dave Chopra indicates in a statement.

Chopra adds that the advent of these changes should drive companies to view jobs as collections of skills and tasks, not just titles, anticipating how AI advancements will impact various tasks. In addition, the skills needed will constantly change.

“Finding an employee that has the perfect set of skills no longer makes sense. Those skills may work today, but as AI evolves, that employee will need a set of new skills. Training and upskilling are crucial if a company is to remain sustainable and competitive,” Chopra adds.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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