Every day we hear people worrying that AI will steal their careers. It’s understandable; every new technology brings new anxieties and, unfortunately, job losses. Tech and security professionals aren’t immune. Right now, GitHub’s Copilot, ChatGPT, Tabnine and others are writing and debugging code. AI is monitoring and optimizing infrastructure and security, handling data collection, preparation, analysis and training and more.
Global consulting giant Accenture estimates that roughly 40 percent of all working hours could be impacted by AI large language models (LLMs). As AI continues to improve, some organizations will inevitably use AI to reduce headcounts. The writing is on the wall: Many lower-level, routine IT jobs such as data entry and clerks are quickly becoming obsolete thanks to AI. It’s not a stretch to think its growing adoption will also negatively impact junior programmer and data analysts jobs.
What to do? “Don’t freak out; geek out!” That’s what I tell anyone anxious about AI and employment. Instead of worrying or avoiding AI, it’s smarter to learn as much as you can about this game-changing new resource and make it work for you.
Why do I and a fast-growing group of others think this? To explain why, let’s look at stats from the best, most credible recent reports on the topic.
Which Jobs Are Primed for Growth in the Age of AI?
- Data scientist.
- Machine learning analyst/engineer.
- Cybersecurity engineer.
- Big data analyst/auditor.
AI Will Create More — and Better — Jobs Than It Takes
According to a recent global study by the World Economic Forum, half of the companies surveyed expect that AI will produce new job growth over the next five years. Only a quarter predict losses. Even these pessimistic organizations may add AI-related workers, researchers found.
The jobs likeliest to be eliminated most quickly will include routine, often low-skill work. Think service reps, cashiers, bank tellers, clerks, admins, bookkeepers, etc. Other reports predict significant losses in PR, marketing, communications, media, law, finance and other white-collar areas marked by routine work. The common thread is that these are all tasks and roles that can use AI’s awesome abilities to collect, analyze, and quickly act on huge amounts of data or automate routine tasks.
Worldwide, the group says, AI will eliminate roughly 500,000 positions between now and 2027. Many predict the number could be far higher. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas says some 4,000 jobs were eliminated by AI in May 2023 alone. Whatever the actual number, the disruption will be big.
In stark contrast, demand for many tech professionals is expected to surge. By 2027, new jobs for AI and machine learning specialists are projected to grow by 40 percent, followed by data analysts/scientists and big data specialists (30-35 percent), according to the WEF. All told, AI will add an estimated 2.6 million high-paying new positions worldwide over the next five years.
Opportunities in cybersecurity and auditing are especially promising. As AI becomes more prevalent and sophisticated, we will need more experts to identify and mitigate potential security risks and vulnerabilities of sensitive data and infrastructure. If you’re already on that track, focusing your career in these areas — and mastering relevant AI – is a natural next step.
At the same time, an intriguing variety of new roles is emerging. AI/UX designers will have unique skills to create intuitive and seamless interactions between humans and smart systems. AI automation and robotics specialists will engineer and implement intelligent systems across industries. Prompt engineers will specialize in posing chat queries that elicit the most useful results. AI trainers will fine-tune systems to improve performance and accuracy. AI business strategists will identify opportunities to use smart technology and develop approaches for its successful adoption. AI ethicists will ensure safe, responsible deployment by addressing algorithmic bias, data privacy and transparency. Many new jobs haven’t even been invented yet.
AI Is Here and Isn’t Leaving
The impact of AI on jobs, especially in tech careers, is not a “someday” thing. It’s happening now. From Alexa to LinkedIn to ubiquitous chatbots, AI is rapidly integrating into a bevy of software, processes and products.
Search for “AI” on any job site, and you’ll find thousands of good technology jobs with excellent pay. Heck, you might try using ChatGPT to reverse-engineer a perfect resume and cover letter based on the job description.
Things promise to get better. Every survey I’ve seen shows 75 percent or more of companies either have or plan to adopt some form of AI in the next 24 months. Top execs are excited by improvements in decision-making, profit margins, competitiveness, innovation and productivity using AI.
Smart tech workers are getting in front of the trend. A GitHub survey found 80 percent of all respondents are already using or are planning to use AI tools in their development process this year. People learning to code are more likely than professional developers to use AI tools (82 percent versus 70 percent). According to a new edX report, new GenZ workers are most enthusiastic — and crafty. They’re secretly using generative AI tools to get ahead of coworkers (62 percent), work multiple full-time jobs (61 percent), do part-time work for another company (57 percent), and some even secretly claim AI work as their own (55 percent).
Even if you’re not in a tech role, most people will need to learn how to use AI-enhanced products in their daily work. Companies in every industry, from software to banking to manufacturing, are busy infusing easy-to-use AI into everything from Word processing, Web search, financial analysis, customer service and much more.
Nobody, of course, has a flawless crystal ball about AI and work, as The New York Times recently noted. Fortunately, the tech industry never over-hypes the impact of technology (wink wink). But everyone agrees: Big changes are coming. AI is going to be a daily part of many jobs.
Get on the Training Train
Employers surveyed by WEF estimate that 44 percent of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years. The group estimates six in 10 workers will require training before 2027. Right now, though, only half of those have access to adequate training opportunities today.
To successfully surf this gigantic new wave, companies and workers need to get ready now. It’s a big job, Accenture says that “Success with generative AI requires equal attention on people and training as it does on technology.”
They continue: “This means both building talent in technical competencies like AI engineering and enterprise architecture and training people across the organization to work effectively with AI-infused processes.”
“Okay, I’m down with learning AI,” you say. The next logical question: Where do you start reskilling or upskilling? As always, it depends. Some jobs will require four-year degrees and advanced study. Many won’t. And as always, build on what you’ve got now to get to what’s next. Here are two good starting places.
AI and Big Data
AI and big data are top training priorities for 42 percent of companies surveyed, the WEF found. Your specific focus can range from acquiring new foundational knowledge (i.e., AI and ML basics, big data, understanding machine learning algorithms, etc.) to managing AI-driven infrastructure. Exploring reputable training and association sites will reveal dozens of related topics and courses for everyone from basic, intermediate and advanced learners.
Recommended skills vary by position. They include programming (Python, Scala, C++), algorithm and modeling design, large language models (LLMs), data engineering, ML DevOps, neural networks, and a growing number of certifications for AI engineers, consultants and data scientists.
Analytical and Creative Thinking
Analytical and creative thinking are another top educational priority for many organizations. Systems thinking, talent management and service orientation are also becoming more valuable in the AI era. So, too, are personal characteristics suited to disruptive times: curiosity, lifelong learning, motivation, flexibility, agility and self-awareness. All are increasingly crucial and worth cultivating.
There are big incentives to skilling. Companies love geeks and are eager to fast-track workers with AI know-how. Two-thirds expect to see a return on investment on skills training within a year, says the WEC, especially in increased job satisfaction, enhanced productivity and greater role mobility. Some 80 percent of developers using AI tools felt they were more productive and happier, a GitHub study found. That sounds like a win-win for employers and workers alike.
Make AI a Partner, Not a Villain
Fear it or love it, AI is poised to transform and reinvent business and work. As any super-intelligent invader would say that it already is, and resistance is futile! Just kidding.
At ACI Learning, we’re practicing what we preach. We’re embracing AI as a key part of our learning experience. Our AI Insights offers data and performance-based guidance that helps L&D leaders make the smartest training decisions. Soon, our AI Mentor will make it even easier to analyze and plan for your team’s next level of growth.
So, geek out! Committing to continuously upgrading skills benefits both organizations and professionals, especially in IT and security. Embrace AI as a partner in your next chapter, not the villain in your final chapter. Your career and company will thank you.