The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating technological advancements and automation of many routine tasks, from contactless cashiers to robots that deliver packages. Many are worried that artificial intelligence (AI), will lead to significant automation and eliminate jobs in the future.
Similar concerns were raised by the internet a few decades back. Despite initial doubts, the technology has created millions of jobs and is now 10% US GDP. AI has the potential to drive even more growth in the US and worldwide economies. According to the Annual Global CEO Survey by PwC, 63% of CEOs believe that AI will have more impact than the internet.
Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies powered by AI will continue changing the world and how we live and work, but AI may not cause massive unemployment. AI technology will instead create more jobs than it automates.
These new jobs will require new skills, and significant investment in upskilling adults and young people. Businesses and governments can and should work together to tackle this transition and reap the benefits of AI for society.
AI and job Growth
Based on PwC’s Global Artificial Intelligence Study, AI will be a major contributor to $15.7 trillion or 26% of global GDP by 2030. This figure is more than the combined GDP of India and China. Productivity will account for approximately 40% of the increase, while consumption will account for 60%.
Although AI may automate some jobs in the future, a PwC AI Study found that “any job loss from automation will likely be broadly offset by new jobs created by the larger and wealthier economic environment made possible by these technologies.” Additionally, PwC doesn’t forecast large-scale technological unemployment due to automation.
The World Economic Forum’s ” Future of Jobs Report 2020” estimates that 85 million jobs would be lost and 97 million jobs will be created in 26 countries by 2025.
AI will automate repetitive, dangerous tasks such as data entry and assembly line production. AI will change the nature and work of many other jobs. Workers can now focus on tasks with higher value and more interpersonal interaction. Both businesses and individuals will see the benefits of these new jobs, which will allow them to be more creative, strategic, entrepreneurial, and productive.
AI’s potential benefits and impact will not be shared equally. Both governments and businesses must collaborate to ensure that AI benefits are shared equally and that existing inequalities do not get worse.
Upskilling and reskilling
Businesses and governments will need to work together to harness the productivity and consumption benefits of AI.
According to PwC’s report ” Will robotics steal our jobs?”, 33% of jobs could be automated by AI in the next few years. This trend may be accelerated by COVID-19, which increases digitization. As AI improves and becomes more autonomous, it is possible that 30% of jobs, and 44%, of those with low education, will be at high risk.
According to the World Economic Forum, half of all workers will need to be re-skilled or upskilled in the next five years to adapt to new and changing jobs. New training models are needed to prepare workers for an AI-based future. True upskilling is a citizen-led process that focuses on applying new knowledge in order to create an AI-ready mindset. Employers should consider upskilling and recalibration as an investment in their future, and not an expense.
Collaboration between companies and educators and non-profit organizations is also important for multi-sector upskilling, reskilling, and education initiatives such as Generation Unlimited or the Reskilling Revolution. Training is not only beneficial for employees and their employers but also benefits the economy and society.
The skills gap and unemployment are a major concern for youth around the globe. They also need reskilling and upskilling. Generation Unlimited a multi-sector partnership aims to assist the 1.8 billion youth worldwide in their transition from school to work by 2030. PwC has partnered with UNICEF, the World Economic Forum and other organizations to support this initiative.
It is important to invest in people already working. PwC’s New World. The New Skills program was originally designed to upskill employees. It is now being used outside of the company to help millions prepare for their future careers.
The Reskilling Revolution was launched by the World Economic Forum in January. It is a public-private partnership that aims to combine the efforts of government and business and share best practices. This initiative is designed to prepare and futureproof one million workers by 2030.
Public-private partnerships, such as the Luxembourg’s Digital Skills Bridge Project, have been able to bring together government agencies, trade unions (including PwC), educators, and other stakeholders at the national level to train and retrain job applicants and existing employees.
Finally, companies must invest in their employees’ soft skills. AI cannot duplicate these abilities. The value in creativity, leadership and emotional intelligence is likely to increase in this rapidly changing world. It is crucial to harness these skills to build strong governance and organizational cultures that can manage AI.
Although some may see the future as bleak, AI’s positive impact on society will outweigh its negative consequences. We can only prepare society and ourselves to embrace AI by investing in quality education and upskilling opportunities that are multi-sector.