Impact of AI on employment: What is the truth?

Will AI actually take away all the jobs in the future?

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Much has been talked and written about on the effect of AI on employment and jobs. The early soothsayers predicted that AI will take away all jobs almost in the immediate future, but nothing of that sort seems to be on the horizon as of now.

No, we aren’t saying that automation and artificial intelligence will have no effect on employment and jobs. Of course there will be change, but it will be more gradual. Besides, it may not affect jobs but skillsets, and the two are different.

It implies that people may have to acquire new skillsets to align themselves with the changing environment. They may not necessarily be rendered jobless, as was predicted earlier.

Did all accountants lose their jobs after accounting software came into existence? Instead, they simply had to upgrade their skills to use their accounting expertise and computer skills in collaboration.

Similarly, the way a journalist writes stories may have changed after the invention of computers and later on, the Internet, but the art of storytelling remains intact.

Yes, the change due to AI may happen at a faster rate than it has happened in the previous industrial revolutions, because the world itself is changing very fast now. However, it will allow all industries to evolve accordingly. By now, people have realised that nothing is going to change overnight.

Kris Shanker, group head, human resources, Infosys, says “AI and ML are an evolutionary process. It is not as if new jobs will be created suddenly overnight. AI is just a newer form of computer programming.”

Yes, there will be new roles or enhanced roles for that matter.

Krish Shankar

“AI and ML are an evolutionary process. It is not as if new jobs will be created suddenly overnight. AI is just a newer form of computer programming”

For instance, as Shankar suggests, “You will have architects pointing out the things or areas where we can throw our data at and use AI. Similarly, there will be coders who will come up with new algorithms using AI and there will be guys who will use these algorithms and applications. At the same time, there will also be architects and engineers who will use machine learning to create more applications.”

This goes on to say that there will be new roles for exiting profiles.

Changes are bound to happen, but gradually—may be in the near or distant future. However, the big question is, ‘What new skillsets or jobs can one expect in the future?’

One role that’s getting popular by the day is that of an analyst. The demand for analysts is expected to grow further. “We will find analysts in every sector. There will be data analysts, healthcare analysts, information security analysts, and many more,” shares Sriharsha Achar, group CHRO, Apollo Hospitals.

Abhijit Bhaduri

“the opportunity areas will be how one solves large problems, which have no single solution. I think these problems will be so ‘big’ that organisations and different countries will have to collaborate. There will be one set of jobs where the person will be required to bring together different nations aligning the interests of different organisations and putting the human scenarios on a common platform,”

In fact, every change brings in new skillsets. For instance, no one thought there could be a rocking profession such as that of a drone operator before the same was invented. Or for that matter, digital marketing experts did not exist 15 years back. Many marketers transitioned to that role only after digital media gained importance. At the same time, a new breed of marketers started their careers in digital marketing having acquired the required skillsets.

However, most industry experts HRKatha spoke to were of the opinion that it’s difficult to forecast what will happen in the distant future, say, a decade or so from now.

“Things are changing at a rapid pace, and it is very difficult to predict what will happen in the next 10 to 15 years. There are jobs which never existed a few years ago, but are very popular now,” says, popular HR practitioner, Abhijit Bhaduri.

“At the same time, the opportunity areas will be how one solves large problems, which have no single solution. I think these problems will be so ‘big’ that organisations and different countries will have to collaborate. There will be one set of jobs where the person will be required to bring together different nations aligning the interests of different organisations and putting the human scenarios on a common platform,” shares Bhaduri.

Sriharsha Achar

“In future, apart from technical skills, certain jobs that require human skills will also continue to grow parallelly — for instance, customer-service workers, sales and marketing professionals, and people in training and development, people and culture, or organisational development specialists. The industry or a business cannot function without them”

It’s not that the job market will only be dominated by technical jobs.

“In future, apart from technical skills, certain jobs that require human skills will also continue to grow parallelly — for instance, customer-service workers, sales and marketing professionals, and people in training and development, people and culture, or organisational development specialists. The industry or a business cannot function without them,” says Achar.

“There will be technology that will work for us and we will need people to humanise that technology,” adds Bhaduri.

So, how should one prepare for the future?

“Young people should build skills around working in small and large groups, in different geographies and across time zones,” concludes Bhaduri.

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