The Future of Work: AI's Impact on Employment

The rapid advancement of technology, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), is reshaping the job market and transforming the skills required in the workforce. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2023 Future of Jobs report, more than 75% of companies are looking to adopt big data, cloud computing and AI technologies in the next five years. AI will create new opportunities while also lead to job displacement in certain sectors.

In this evolving landscape, it is essential for individuals and organizations to understand and respond to these shifts in skills and job demands. The following exploration will delve a bit deeper into the projected job creation and displacement, the evolving skill requirements, and the upskilling strategies adopted by businesses as reported by the WEC. By embracing these changes, candidates can position themselves for the emerging opportunities, and businesses can foster a skilled workforce to thrive in the age of AI and technology.

Projected job creation and displacement

The Future of Jobs Survey 2023 projects that within the next five years (2023-2027), approximately 83 million jobs will be lost, while 69 million new jobs will be created. This indicates a significant turnover in the labor market, amounting to a total of 152 million jobs. The survey also examines the anticipated impact of technology adoption on employment. It identifies big data analytics, climate change and environmental management technologies, as well as encryption and cybersecurity, as the main drivers of job growth. On the other hand, agriculture technologies, digital platforms and apps, e-commerce and digital trade, and AI are expected to disrupt the labor market, leading to job displacement in many organizations. However, the overall effect is expected to be positive, with job growth in other areas offsetting the losses. One particular focus of attention is generative AI, which could potentially automate over 50% of tasks for approximately 19% of the workforce.

New jobs and lost jobs

The findings from the Future of Jobs Survey 2023 highlight several key trends in the job market. The top-growing roles are dominated by technology-related positions, with AI and Machine Learning Specialists leading the way, followed by Sustainability Specialists and Business Intelligence Analysts. On the other hand, the fastest declining roles are predominantly clerical or secretarial in nature, such as Bank Tellers and Related Clerks, Postal Service Clerks, and Cashiers and Ticket Clerks. These roles are customer facing. How AI will replace these high-contact, problem-solving, brand ambassadors has yet to be figured out, but as generative AI advances human interaction may come somewhat replaceable.

The survey also reveals that 86% of respondents expect digital access to have a transformative impact on their organizations. Out of these respondents, 52% anticipate job growth resulting from increased digital access, while 19% expect job decline. This shift is evident in the projected increase in roles such as E-commerce Specialists, Digital Transformation Specialists, and Digital Marketing and Strategy Specialists, which are expected to grow by 25-35%, adding around 2 million jobs. The decline of face-to-face and record-keeping roles is consistent across various industries, particularly in Information Technology and Digital Communications (around 50% decline), Financial Services (around 40% decline), and Supply Chain and Transportation (around 40% decline).

Demand for AI and Machine Learning Specialists is predicted to grow significantly, with a projected 40% increase, equating to approximately one million jobs. This growth is attributed to the expanding usage of AI and machine learning, which continues to drive industry transformation. Furthermore, WEF research on Generative AI indicates that it has the potential to impact a significant proportion of total worker tasks, further emphasizing the transformative effects of AI on the job market. These findings illustrate the evolving landscape of employment, with technology-driven roles flourishing and traditional roles undergoing significant transformation or decline.

Other new jobs that are popping up are roles that help people work more effectively with AI. PC Mag identifies AI Auditors, AI Trainers, and Prompt Engineers. Further they recognize AI Ethicists are already an in-demand role. PC Mag reports “Bing Chat AI (powered by ChatGPT-4) defines this role as the person "responsible for ensuring that AI is used in a safe and ethical manner."

Skill evolution 2023-2027

The Future of Jobs Survey 2023 highlights the growing significance of cognitive skills in the workplace. Complex problem-solving skills and creative thinking are reported to be increasing in importance at a rapid rate. Technology literacy is identified as the third-fastest growing core skill. Self-efficacy skills are reported to rank higher than working with others. This emphasizes the increasing value placed on individuals' belief in their own abilities and complements the growing reality of hybrid, remote and asynchronistic work we are in seeing in Canada.

In terms of socio-emotional attitudes, curiosity and lifelong learning are seen as growing in importance. This is followed by resilience, flexibility, and agility, as well as motivation and self-awareness. These findings demonstrate that businesses prioritize workers who possess resilience, a willingness to learn throughout their lives, and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Lifelong learning is particularly emphasized as skills have a shorter lifespan in today's dynamic environment.

Other skills that made it to the top 10 in terms of growing importance, as reported by businesses, include systems thinking, AI and big data, talent management, and service orientation and customer service. These skills reflect the increasing demand for individuals who can think holistically, utilize AI and big data effectively, manage talent, and provide excellent service to customers.

Upskilling priorities and strategies

To adapt to the changing skill landscape, businesses are actively developing and expanding their training programs. Analytical thinking emerges as the highest priority for skills training between 2023 and 2027, accounting for approximately 10% of training initiatives, on average. Creative thinking follows closely as the second priority, with around 8% of upskilling efforts dedicated to it.


Source: World Economic Forum, Future of Jobs Survey 2023

Interestingly, companies place a higher strategic emphasis on AI and big data in their skills strategies compared to their evaluation of core skills. This indicates that businesses recognize the growing importance of AI and big data and plan to invest approximately 9% of their reskilling efforts in this area. Leadership and social influence also rank higher in skills strategies compared to their current importance, representing the highest-ranked attitude.

Several other skills receive strategic emphasis from businesses. Design and user experience, environmental stewardship, marketing and media, and networks and cybersecurity are all prioritized higher in skills strategies compared to their current importance. This suggests that companies are actively recognizing the significance of these skills and allocating resources accordingly.

In contrast, although self-efficacy skills are currently considered important, they are relatively de-emphasized in skills strategies from 2023 to 2027. This shift may be a response to recent disruptions and the need to focus on developing other skills that are more aligned with the evolving demands of the market.

This is an exciting time for businesses, entrepreneurs, and candidates. Digital transformation, AI and skills-based roles are exponentially changing the way we work together and impact out economic growth in Canada.


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