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Artificial intelligence (AI) has continued to have an impact on the job market, with 66 per cent of business leaders stating that they would refrain from hiring someone without the necessary AI skills, according to a recent study.

Microsoft and LinkedIn recently released the 2024 Work Trend Index, a joint report on the state of AI at work, titled “AI at work is here. Now comes the hard part.” The research is based on a survey of 31,000 people across 31 countries, labour and hiring trends on LinkedIn, trillions of Microsoft 365 productivity signals, as well as research with Fortune 500 customers.

AI has already had a stark impact on the way people work, lead and hire across the world, and 2024 is set to be the year where AI at work reaches new heights. In fact, in a series of articles published by MaltaCEOs.mt recently, various local business leaders highlighted the impact of emerging technologies on the workplace, also expressing their desire to enhance their knowledge about their use.

While many employees have feared that AI could potentially replace them, the 2024 Work Trend Index highlighted that there is a hidden talent shortage, particularly an opportunity for those wanting a career change and are willing to improve their AI skills.

In fact, 55 per cent of business leaders say they are concerned about having enough talent to fill roles in the year ahead, and this rises to 60 per cent or more for functions related to cybersecurity, engineering, and creative design. Additionally, professionals are searching for jobs, with 46 per cent of global jobseekers considering quitting in the year ahead.

However, while leaders have already made a significant step towards searching for technical AI talent, with hiring in this area up by 323 per cent in the past eight years, they are now also searching for non-technical talent with AI aptitude – the skills to use generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Copilot.

The study found that 66 per cent of business leaders are not willing to hire someone who doesn’t possess AI skills, while 71 per cent say they would rather hire a less experienced candidate with AI skills than a more experience one who doesn’t have such abilities. Additionally, junior candidates seem to be gaining a new edge, as 77 per cent of leaders remarked that due to AI, early-in-career talent will be given greater responsibilities.

Despite the fact that leaders have recognised the value of brining on new employees with AI aptitude, the same cannot be said in terms of developing their own people. The study highlighted that globally, only 39 per cent of people who use AI at work have received AI training from their present company. Just 25 per cent of companies are planning to offer training on generative AI this year, further emphasising the training deficit.

However, professionals are not waiting for any official guidance or training from their companies, and are instead opting to skill up.

The vast majority (76 per cent) of professionals feel they need AI skills to remain competitive in the job market. They also stated that AI can help them get promoted faster and substantially broaden their job opportunities.

Satya Nadella / X
Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella / X

Additionally, for many people, AI is not replacing their job, but transforming it. Their future job may potentially be a role that does not exist yet. At a global level, skills are expected to change by 50 per cent from 2016 to 2030, with generative AI expected to accelerate this change to 68 per cent. New roles are being created, including Head of AI, which has emerged as a “new must-have leadership role.”

In his comments in the report, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella said that “AI is democratising expertise across the workforce.” He added that the research highlights the opportunity for organisations to “apply this technology to drive better decision-making, collaboration and ultimately, business outcomes.”

Aside from recruitment, the report also explored employees’ desire for AI at work, as 90 per cent of users remarked that these technologies help them save time.

While 79 per cent of leaders agree that their company needs to adopt AI in order to remain competitive in this dynamic environment, 59 per cent are also worried about quantifying the productivity gains of AI. This level of uncertainty is hindering vision, as 60 per cent of leaders worry that their organisation’s leadership lacks a plan and vision to implement AI.

The report found that given employees are not receiving any guidance or clearance from their leaders, they are instead taking things into their own hands, as more than three fourths (78 per cent) of AI users are bringing their own AI tools to work (BYOAI). These users are reluctant to admit to using it for their most important tasks, and others fear it makes them look replaceable.

ryanroslansky - linkedin cropped
LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky / LinkedIn

An integral reason behind BYOAI is because the pace and volume of work has accelerated faster than employees can keep up, with 46 per cent of respondents stating that they feel burnt out. This is not helped by email overloads, meetings, and after-work hours.

LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky said that AI is “redefining work, and it’s clear we need new playbooks.”

“It’s the leaders who build for agility instead of stability and invest in skill building internally that will give their organisations a competitive advantage and create more efficient, engaged, and equitable teams,” he added.

Last month, Mr Roslansky called for a change in how jobs are perceived, seeing them as sets of tasks instead of defined roles, as AI and emerging technologies can help augment or make certain tasks more efficient.

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