Artificial intelligence (AI) is so ingrained in many aspects of our day-to-day lives, you may not even notice it’s there. AI refers to computer systems that can perform tasks that usually require human intelligence; for example, they can solve problems, recognise speech and learn from data. From smart personal assistants that can be commanded by voice such as Amazon Alexa, to the online shopping recommendations you see on social media and ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft: all are powered by AI.
The world of work isn’t immune to the influence of AI either, with businesses embracing it as a tool that can help improve productivity and accelerate innovation. AI allows companies to automate repetitive tasks which can help save time and money, while also freeing up workers’ valuable time to spend on other activities. It can also help speed up the recruitment process with the use of CV scanners and Applicant Tracking Systems and to reduce bias in recruitment and performance management as candidates and employees are evaluated in a fact-based manner free from human bias.
While being a source of opportunity, AI is also widely talked about as a threat to human jobs. Research by McKinsey concluded that around fifteen percent of the global workforce, which consists of about 400 million workers, could lose their jobs to AI in the period 2016-2030 alone. Jobs that are highly physical and take place in a highly predictable and structured environment are most at risk of being automated, as well as positions in data collection and processing.
However, according to the World Economic Forum, AI will create as many jobs as it displaces due to a greater demand for people who can work with the machines. There will be a higher demand for data scientists, for example – whose job it is to evaluate the decisions made by AI algorithms – as well as machine learning engineers, AI application architects and AI researchers, to name a few.
AI’s disruption of the workplace will also lead to a shift in the demand for workplace skills. The demand for technological skills is expected to grow substantially, with advanced IT and programming skills forecast to have the highest rise in demand, growing by 90% between 2016 and 2030. On the other end of the spectrum, the need for social, emotional and higher cognitive skills such as communication, empathy, critical thinking, decision making and problem solving is also expected to soar, simply because machines haven’t mastered those skills just yet.
Other skills and attributes such as leadership, creative thinking and initiative, will also be highly sought after by companies that are continually looking to drive innovation.
So how can you prepare for this AI revolution on an individual level? First of all, work on honing the transferable skills identified above and be sure to highlight them when applying for jobs. It’s also important to keep up to date with the latest technologies and trends shaping your preferred industry as this awareness is likely to impress employers. Last but not least, work on your resilience and adaptability; your ability to embrace and successfully navigate change is what can really make you a stand-out candidate. In these ever-changing workplaces, agility and resilience represent keys to success.