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Artificial Intelligence and a Pivoting Workforce

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​“Pivoting is not the end of the disruption process, but the beginning of the next leg of your journey.” 

― Jay Samit

It is clear Artificial intelligence is on the rise. There are examples in all walks of life from automated cars, drone deliveries, chat bot run customer service centres, warehouse management, e-trading and even in the use of products such as Alexa. 

As a result we are now truly living in a time where we can and will see the impact that AI has on the workforce. But is that impact good or bad? Expert opinion really is split. Whilst it cannot be denied that some jobs are being impacted, does the rise of AI necessarily mean doom and gloom for today’s workforce? You don’t really have to go far to find people proclaiming the rise of AI means the end of jobs as we know it. 

In many ways, we can think of the rise of AI and other emerging technologies in the same way we think of the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution changed the way many industries worked and it brought about change on a huge level.  For example the Luddites were textiles workers who protested against automation. They resorted to attacking factories because they feared machines were robbing them of their jobs and their livelihood. This occurred all the way back in the 1800’s, so concerns about job losses due to automation are not exactly exclusively a modern phenomenon. The reality in this example was that jobs didn’t just disappear, the reality was the creation of more jobs, different jobs, jobs just changed

The impact the internet had and continues to have on the workforce is enormous. We can see this in the decline of high street stores and the huge increase in ecommerce. The introduction of cheap smartphones gave a huge percentage of the population internet access. As a result online purchases continue to eliminate a vast number of retail jobs both in the reduction of high street stores but also in the increase in automation and robotics in fulfilment centres. Some believe that worldwide technological change could easily lead to the loss of 5 million jobs each year. However what history has taught us is that the economy is incredibly flexible in pivoting and creating other jobs thereby absorbing the impact of these changes.  I believe the increase in use of automation and AI technologies will have a similar impact on the shape of the workforce. 

Just like in the industrial revolution some of the jobs we know today will become obsolete. You could say these jobs are not the best jobs, they are the more physical jobs or the more repetitive jobs. May be even the less interesting jobs but just like the industrial revolution created new jobs, so will AI and automation. These new positions will undoubtably require a different skill. The internet has already shown how adaptable we are by moving into jobs with skills and titles that didn’t exist prior to its existence. In fact the skills continue to change and adapt at an ever increasing rate. 

When people think about AI and automation the first thought is to consider what jobs will be replaced. Personally I like to think about the job’s that will be created, the jobs’ that we don’t even know will exist. History has a habit of repeating itself. We adapt, we pivot. In the same way Odeo became Twitter and Tote became Pinterest, the global workforce will become something unrecognisable. Hopefully we won’t all be wearing headsets earning our living in the OASIS, but who knows you may need to become the next Parzival or Art3mis.

Organisations are constantly creating technology to change the way people work and the way the world works. I suppose my role and the role of Opus Talent Solutions is to provide the people and help to drive this change in the workforce. We do this by providing our clients the best people to create change. 

Technology changes the way people work. At Tandem our candidates change the way technology works. ………. I suppose my big question is whether one of our candidates will ultimately create something that makes my own job and the company I work for redundant ……… Oh well If that happens, I guess we will just have to pivot.

Jobs will always be there – just different ones.