Whenever the subject of artificial intelligence comes up, there are fears concerning how it is going to affect the economy and, in particular, what impact it will have on the jobs market. Developments such as self-driving cars and robotisation of manufacturing are likely to precipitate a decline in demand for many low-skilled occupations. Yet many experts now see AI as a positive force; indeed a recent report suggests it could add as much as 1.2 per cent a year to GDP growth over the next decade.
The study from the McKinsey Global Institute (REF: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/artificial-intelligence/notes-from-the-frontier-modeling-the-impact-of-ai-on-the-world-economy) suggests that almost three-quarters of businesses will have adopted AI in some form by 2030. This could herald the start of a new industrial revolution, but there are likely to be some challenges to be met along the way.
The changing workplace
The rise of AI has the potential to lead to a workplace in which repetitive tasks are carried out by machine and humans carry out more fulfilling work that can add value to the business. However, this mandates a shift in the culture of the organisation. Businesses that are able to adapt fast will be better able to take maximum advantage of the new technology.
There is of course risk involved too. AI could have the effect of deepening the ‘digital divide’ between companies that are willing to adopt the technology and those that aren’t. It’s also the case that in low wage industries, the benefits of automation are likely to be proportionately less.
A report from consultants PwC (REF: https://www.pwc.co.uk/press-room/press-releases/AI-will-create-as-many-jobs-as-it-displaces-by-boosting-economic-growth.html) suggests that across the UK economy as a whole, the effect on jobs is likely to be roughly neutral. Around seven million jobs could be lost to AI but PwC believes a similar number will be generated.
The effect of this varies considerably by industry. Sectors such as healthcare, science, IT and professional work are set to see a jobs boost. On the other hand, manufacturing, transport and finance are set to see job numbers fall. This means not only a rebalancing of the employment market but also the need for many people to retrain into new sectors.
This means regional variations too, as the effects of change by industry will hit some areas of the country harder than others.
To ensure that they are ready for the impact of AI, businesses need to ensure that they review their operations in the context of potential change. This is not only a technology issue but one of resource and staff planning too. Only by understanding which jobs are going to be impacted and where business performance could be boosted by AI technology can companies ensure that they remain competitive in a rapidly changing world.
AI is set to lead to a significant shift in the pace of technological change in organisations. If you need help managing this change then the team at Clifford Associates can help you find the right senior staff to take your business forward into the AI era.
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