Working alongside artificial intelligence will be “as inherent” as how we work with the internet — and employees need to equip themselves with skills for this new future.
That is according to Microsoft’s new Work Trend Index report, which surveyed 31,000 people across 31 markets between February and March 2023.
Chatbot ChatGPT sparked a new wave of interest in generative AI technologies in recent months, and Big Tech firms like Google and Microsoft have since looked to infuse AI across their business.
Microsoft’s $13 billion investment in startup OpenAI led to a revamped Bing search, which the company said uses a large language model “more powerful than ChatGPT.”
However, generative AI’s ability to create text, images and other content in response to human input — has surfaced new fears of jobs being replaced by tech.
A recent Goldman Sachs report found 300 million jobs around the world stand to be impacted by AI and automation, such as office and administrative support roles.
Speaking to CNBC Make It in a virtual interview, Colette Stallbaumer, the general manager for Microsoft 365 and “future of work,” said that Microsoft is “incredibly optimistic” about how AI can change work for the better.
Just like … any massive technology shift, whether it was the PC shift or the internet, there is always a period of time with technology diffusion, where there is new job creation.
“Just like … any massive technology shift, whether it was the PC shift or the internet, there is always a period of time with technology diffusion, where there is new job creation,” she added.
“We really believe that AI will create more jobs than it replaces.”
AI skill sets leaders think employees will need
According to Microsoft, 82% of leaders globally and 85% of leaders in Asia Pacific said employees will need new skills in an “AI-powered future.”
The report found that the three top skills that leaders believe are essential are analytical judgment, flexibility and emotional intelligence.
These are skills that are “new core competencies,” added Microsoft, not just for technical roles or AI experts.
You still have to use those judgment skills when thinking about when to use AI and making those calls — that’s really where the human agency comes into it.
“The human is always in control and … with a generated AI response, you have a moment of, ‘Do I want to keep this content? Do I want to modify it? Do I want to discard it?’,” Stallbaumer explained.
“You still have to use those judgment skills when thinking about when to use AI and making those calls — that’s really where the human agency comes into it.”
Emotional intelligence is also crucial in helping to “determine when to leverage an AI capacity instead of a human capability,” Microsoft added.
Top skills leaders believe are essential for the future
- Analytical judgment
- Emotional intelligence
- Intellectual curiosity
- Bias detection and handling
- AI delegation (prompts)
In response to queries from CNBC Make It, LinkedIn added that skills required for the job market today are “changing rapidly,” and much of it is driven by AI.
“[This] underscores the need for companies to focus on upskilling and reskilling their workers, and for professionals to have a growth mindset.”
According to LinkedIn, the five fastest growing AI-related skills in 2022 were: question answering, classification, recommender systems, computer vision and natural language processing.
Demand for AI jobs still outstrips supply
LinkedIn added that AI has seen rapid growth in the labor market — in APAC, there was higher growth in AI talent hiring in 2022 “compared to overall hiring” in the region.
For example, the share of AI talent across Asia has grown at an exponential rate between 2016 and 2022 — a whopping 565% for Singapore, 527% for Australia and 487% for India.
The introduction of generative AI is “already starting to reshape the labor market,” said Karin Kimbrough, LinkedIn’s chief economist, though demand still outstrips supply.
“While it’s still early days, this shift will expand opportunities, create new roles and augment productivity.”
According to job portal Indeed, interest in AI jobs in Singapore grew 148.6% over the past five years, while the number of such job postings lagged behind, growing just 95% in the same period.
“Asia has emerged as a hub for AI development, research, and commercialization due to its huge potential for scaling returns,” said Karthik Sudhakar, Indeed’s senior manager for international strategy and operations.
“Japan and South Korea, two leading tech countries in Asia, have some of the highest AI patent filings in the world.”
In Singapore, AI-related roles are also “well paid above the average monthly salary” of $3,800, said Indeed. For example, machine learning engineers and data engineers are paid $5,800 and $6,100 on average.
While remuneration continues to be a factor in job decisions, LinkedIn attributed the heightened interest in AI-related skills and jobs to professionals “staying ahead of the curve” in an uncertain environment.
“We are seeing that professionals are showing more agency by taking control of their careers and are using skills as building blocks to design their careers,” added LinkedIn’s career expert Pooja Chhabria.
“They are embracing skills over degrees as a way to chart new career paths as more organizations are now taking a skills-first hiring approach.”
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(With Inputs from CNBC)
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