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CareersGPT: How AI Could Impact Our Professional Lives

Chris Webb exclusive

Registered Career Development Professional, Chris Webb, reflects on what it means for young people to prepare for a world of work where Generative AI technology is changing the landscape so rapidly, and the steps individuals can take right now to better understand how GenAI could augment their future career pathways. 

Since the public launch of ChatGPT in November 2022, it feels as though wherever you move in the online space, there is a blog, comment thread or thought piece on the subject of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) and how it is potentially going to impact the world of work, and society in general. And if you thought the hype around GenAI might be dying down after its breakout year in 2023, think again – in the first few months of 2024 alone, there has been a glut of massive AI stories in the news, from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s proposed $7 trillion (yes, TRILLION) funding round for AI microchip production, to current chipmaker Nvidia’s frankly outrageous recent profit increases, and the already staggering ‘needle-in-a-haystack’ analysis and text-to-video generation capabilities of Google Gemini 1.5 (which is also making the news for some of the wrong reasons…) and OpenAI’s Sora (see video below for an example of the mind-blowing potential of this technology): 

Given the dizzying speed of developments in the GenAI space and the speculative nature of reports that attempt to predict the impact of the technology on job creation and displacement, it is hardly surprising that there are varying levels of comfort amongst young people when it comes to using AI tools – as this recent report from Handshake, entitled Early Talent Career Influences in the AI Age (which draws on research from Savanta undertaken between October and November 2023, encompassing 2066 responses from students and graduates aged 18-28, based in the UK) notes, although 29% of respondents reflected that they were already using AI for a variety of purposes (including for research assistance, generating ideas and preparing for job interviews), many individuals were worried about the impact that GenAI could have on their careers (54%) and there is evidence of hesitation in terms of both use of AI technology and disclosing the use of these tools with educational establishments and employers. What the report reflects most clearly is that there is a widespread understanding amongst respondents that GenAI technology is certainly going to have an impact on their professional lives, even if they are not 100% sure what this might look like in practice (and really, do any of us?!) 

With reports like the Unit for Future Skills ‘The impact of AI on UK jobs and training’ challenging us to consider exactly how ‘exposed’ some jobs might be to GenAI technology in comparison to others, it raises the important question of how we encourage and support students and young professionals to consider their future career development in the context of rapid technological change. As a careers professional, this is a question I discuss regularly with students, graduates, colleagues, employers and other stakeholders, and while the suggestions below for how young people can reflect meaningfully on how GenAI may impact their careers certainly reference AI technology, in this instance the words are 100% human-generated (for transparency!): 

Don’t (just) Believe the Hype  

We live in an era of ‘clickbait’ headlines and sadly, some of the news and content regarding GenAI that can be found via mainstream and social media can often be characterised as such, with Elon Musk’s prediction that AI technology could mean ‘the end of work’ for most people just one high-profile example. As with the widely critiqued estimate from a 2017 Dell / Institute for the Future report that ‘85% of the jobs that today’s learners will be doing in 2030 haven’t been invented yet’, while there is plenty of speculation around GenAI, in terms of how many jobs it will potentially create or take away, at present a lot of this is very much still guesswork. And if the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that predicting the future with any degree of certainty is a fool’s errand – just ask any of the individuals currently in remote/hybrid working job roles, who up to March 2019 were working 5 days a week in an office! 

So, when it comes to GenAI it’s important to not fixate on the hype but to dig deeper. Reports like this one from the Unit for Future Skills demonstrate the importance of challenging what we think we might know about how certain job roles could be ‘exposed’ to GenAI technology – for example, the report identifies roles that we often associate as requiring ‘the human touch’, such as Teachers and Psychologists, as being some of the most exposed to AI technology (meaning that a significant amount of the tasks required in the job role could be augmented by GenAI), reflecting the fact that many professionals are already using AI tools to help assist them with parts of their work, for example, teachers utilising systems like ChatGPT to help them generate lesson materials or quiz questions based on pre-prepared prompts. 

For students and young professionals, the same lesson also holds for the use of AI in recruitment processes – while there have been some high-profile cases of AI systems demonstrating algorithmic bias when screening candidates, not all employers and recruiters are using AI tools in the same way, so it’s vital to research the types of companies that you are interested in and dig deeper into what methods they might be using to assess candidates and the role AI may play in these processes. For example, in this article collating together employer perspectives on AI in the recruitment process, taken from the Institute of Student Employers 2023 HE Conference, Experian notes that while they are not using AI in their recruitment process currently, they are open to candidates using GenAI tools to support their applications, providing it has been used in a way that is creative and adds value to the application, rather than just as a way to produce generic text. 


Innovation breeds creation – as noted in this Goldman Sachs research from 2022, the arrival of new technologies leads to the creation of new occupations, which usually account for the majority of long-term employment growth. As a great example from the research, 60% of today’s workers are employed in occupations that didn’t exist in 1940, the majority of which has been driven by new technology – for example, the development of IT systems creating previously unforeseen roles such as Web Designers, Software Developers and Digital Marketing Professionals. While we can already see new jobs connected to AI technologies appearing in front of our eyes (for example, Prompt Engineer, AI Engineer and AI Intelligence Analyst), for students and young professionals there is a benefit in looking beyond individual job roles to consider how entire industries are starting to shift due to the impact of GenAI – for example, how might the advertising industry look in the future, now that generating multiple ideas for ad campaigns is only a short prompt away? How could the role of medical professionals change when it comes to diagnosing patient conditions, now that there are AI tools that can sift through medical data with improved speed and efficiency to identify abnormalities? 

The possibilities inherent with a rapidly developing technology like GenAI can lead to opportunities to solve problems that might previously have never been achievable – indeed, a cursory glance at this list of ’69 AI Startups in the UK to Watch’ from Seedtable surfaces new businesses seeking to solve a variety of challenges, from AI-powered legal assistants to software that tracks the performance of carbon offsets for companies that are working towards achieving Net Zero. As a student or young professional, I would be using this moment in time to ask myself a couple of questions – ‘What problems affecting the world (such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals) do I care about solving?’ and ‘What does GenAI technology allow me to do to help solve these problems, that I couldn’t do previously?’ – and then considering the career possibilities my answers might open up for me, whether that could be working for particular organisations or setting up my enterprise to take these ideas forward. 

Consider the Big Picture 

Finally, when considering the role that GenAI may play in their future professional lives, students and young professionals can benefit from taking a step back and applying what I call the ‘Jurassic Park Test’ (e.g. being so preoccupied with thinking about how you could use AI, rather than whether you should) – what I mean by this is reflecting on what AI technology means to you on a holistic level, encompassing not just how you feel it is going to change the world or industries/jobs you might be interested in, but also how you feel about the technology on an ideological level and any ethical concerns you might have about how AI could be used by companies or individuals, such as data privacy issues, misgivings around misinformation, the sustainability question, digital poverty issues (e.g. fair access to AI tools as more and more companies move to a paid subscription model), the potential for copyright infringement or existential questions about what the role of humans might be in a world where we rely more and more on AI tools for everyday tasks.  

Asking these sorts of questions can help individuals develop a professional ‘position’ on GenAI and other AI technology, which can then be used to inform the types of career pathways they might wish to consider (based on how AI might be used in certain industries or occupations) and the organisations they may be interested in working with to solve the problems they care about, in much the same way that their values around a company’s Green credentials, approach to EDI or commitment to giving back might influence their decision making. 

Whatever students and young professionals currently completing GCSEs, A-Levels, T-Levels, BTECs, Apprenticeships, Degrees, Higher Technical Qualifications, Skills Bootcamps or other training routes want their future careers to potentially look like, they will almost certainly involve GenAI and other emergent technologies in some capacity. With this in mind, careers professionals, educators, employers, policymakers and other stakeholders must align closely when it comes to considering how we communicate the changes impacting the world of work and support young people to reflect on what this might mean for them as they move through their journey of life, learning and work.  

By Chris Webb, Registered Career Development Professional, the Career Development Institute (CDI) / AGCAS 

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