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Future of work: key skills for businesses to optimise AI integration

Julian Mulhare

This article looks at the future of work, and adopting new technologies such as AI and the Cloud. Plus the changing job landscapes with AI, citing historical shifts from the internet era. It also anticipates new roles amid AI’s impact, emphasising cognitive, creative, and tech skills for the future.

It may seem though the future of work is changing, but it always has been. AI will replace some jobs, but it will also create new ones whereby people will be using AI to make their jobs easier. 

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane. The initial introduction of the internet in the 1990’s caused concern that jobs would be lost, specifically office jobs that relied on manual tasks. However, new jobs were created in areas such as web development, cybersecurity, and social media management. This resulted in UK unemployment actually falling from 10% in 1993 to 5% in 2003. The future of work with AI will be similar, while some jobs will be displaced by technology and digitalisation the real disruption will be in the skills needed, requiring a focus on cognitive skills, creative thinking, and technology literacy. Employers estimate that 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years, according to the The World Economic Forum. 

The important thing for people to do amidst this is figuring out how to take advantage of these changes and be ready when the future of work arrives.

Forecasting the job landscape

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) estimates almost 40% of employment is exposed to AI, which rises to 60% in advanced economies. The jobs likely to be impacted by AI tend to share some common characteristics. AI excels at handling predictable, routine tasks that follow clear rules, so jobs in data entry, bookkeeping, basic financial reporting, scheduling, and some assembly lines will be impacted. 

In addition, data analysis jobs like loan processors, insurance underwriters, and some market research analysts will be affected as AI can analyse massive datasets faster and more accurately than humans. AI-powered chatbots can handle basic customer inquiries, troubleshoot problems, and answer frequently asked questions. This could affect some call center representatives and customer service assistants. Even some legal research and medical diagnosis tasks could be affected by advanced AI.

Three essential skills for the AI era

So, are the clickbait headlines about ‘AI making all jobs redundant’ right? In short, no. We have been down this road before, as technology continues to change our world and change it for the better. The solution is the same as in all those other massive shifts from technology, we need to upskill cognitive skills, creative thinking, and technology literacy as we work alongside technology and AI.

The first step is to identify key roles and research how technology will impact them. What tasks change? What new skills are needed? From here we need to design upskilling programmes for specific skill gaps in each role. This can be delivered by offering a mix of online courses, workshops, and mentorship to address technical skills, soft skills, and digital literacy. 

To maximise uptake, promote the programmes, ensure accessibility, and offer ongoing technical help. Monitor participation, measure skill development, and adapt the programmes based on feedback. And finally, foster a culture that encourages continuous learning and skill development. Recognise and reward employees who actively participate in upskilling initiatives.

What work may look like in an AI powered world

Imagine a data analyst at a retail company is tasked with understanding customer buying habits. They would use critical thinking to define the problem and choose relevant data sources. They would then apply problem-solving skills to design queries and analyse the data. By recognising patterns in purchasing behaviour, they might identify trends or customer segments. 

Finally, they would use data visualisation skills to present their findings to stakeholders in a clear and concise way. Their attention to detail would ensure the accuracy of their analysis, and their learning agility would allow them to adapt to new data sources or analysis tools in the future.

Not every company will be able to navigate this transformation themselves. Companies can look to partner with technology experts who can not only advise, but build the technology uniquely required for your business purposes in the new age of AI. Specialist knowledge on AI and Data Analytics are key, as well as the foundational infrastructure and application modernisation skills.

Embracing Change

Each generation feels as though they are the ones moving at the fastest pace with the most change, and that previous generations had it easy. It appears that accelerating change is merely the status quo.

In the 2000’s Kofi Annan, the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations stated that “the world is becoming increasingly complex and interconnected”. Fifty years before that Eleanor Roosevelt said “the world is getting more and more complex each day. The things that were important to us yesterday are not important to us today.”

In addition to staying abreast of advancements in AI, reflect on the transformative impact of technology on productivity and quality of life. In the early 20th century, people typically worked 60 hours a week. This number significantly reduced to 40 hours in the early 1990s, solidified as the standard workweek in the UK by legislation.

Perhaps the future of work is actually less menial work and more impactful work?

Julian Mulhare, Managing Director – EMEA, Searce

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