AI has a positive impact on job creation, and we have proof of it
AI has entered our lives, bringing promises of transforming work and task management. Amidst fears of job loss, let's stay optimistic as we navigate the new era, which will offer unexplored benefits and, of course, create new job opportunities.
HR content specialist at Workable, delivering in-depth, data-driven articles to offer insights into industry and tech trends.
It’s about time to to shed light on the optimistic approach to AI and job creation, countering the fears of job loss with evidence and projections that highlight AI’s potential to generate new employment opportunities, enhance productivity, and drive economic growth.
By examining historical precedents, current trends, and future projections, we will explore how AI is not just a disruptor but a catalyst for job creation, requiring a shift in skills and adaptation from the workforce.
Before we proceed, if you feel curious about the extent to which AI companies utilize technology, we recommend referring to our recently published AI in hiring report.
Personal computer was a job killer back in the day
The fear that technology will render human labor obsolete is not new. Each technological revolution, from the Industrial Revolution to the internet boom, has been met with apprehension about the future of work.
Yet, history has consistently shown that while technology can displace certain jobs, it also creates new opportunities and industries.
For instance, the introduction of the personal computer, once feared to be a job killer, has instead expanded employment in a wide range of fields, from software development to digital marketing.
A study by Atkinson and Wu (2017) highlights how the automation of agriculture led to a significant shift in employment towards manufacturing and services, ultimately creating more jobs than were lost.
Similarly, the digital revolution of the late 20th and early 21st centuries has given rise to entirely new sectors such as e-commerce, digital content creation, and cybersecurity, further illustrating the dynamic nature of technological progress and its capacity to generate employment.
These historical examples underscore a crucial lesson: Technological advancement does not spell the end of work – nor the world – but rather, it transforms it.
As we stand on the brink of the AI revolution, it is essential to view AI not as a harbinger of joblessness but as the next step in the evolution of work, with the potential to create new industries and redefine existing ones.
AI’s impact on job creation: the evidence
Contrary to the dystopian view of AI-induced unemployment, a growing body of research suggests that AI can significantly contribute to job creation and economic growth.
Generative AI has the potential to significantly boost productivity and contribute trillions of dollars to the global economy. McKinsey Global Institute research suggests that it could add $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion annually across 63 analyzed use cases, increasing the impact of all AI by 15 to 40 percent.
In the context of China, a recent study published in Nature Communications by Yang Shen & Xiuwu Zhang provides empirical evidence that the adoption of industrial robots has increased employment in Chinese enterprises.
Furthermore, the concept of virtual agglomeration, facilitated by digital technologies, has emerged as a significant driver of job creation, enabling new forms of business models and employment opportunities in the digital economy.
Moreover, the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2028, AI and automation will create 69 million new jobs worldwide, leading to a net reduction of 2% in overall jobs. This slight reduction is subject to change as technology evolves driving the economy to new heights.
This economic boost is expected to come from a combination of labor substitution, enhanced innovation in products and services, and the creation of new demand for AI-related jobs.
These findings highlight the multifaceted impact of AI on the job market, demonstrating its potential to not only automate tasks but also to create new job categories, enhance the quality of existing jobs, and drive economic growth.
Let’s take a look at this Tedx talk by Rutika Muchhala, a pioneer in the technology space, who supports the idea of adapting to the new era by enhancing our skills and shares some occupations that may diminish in the future:
From repetition to innovation
The narrative of AI-induced job displacement often focuses on roles characterized by repetitive and predictable tasks, which are indeed susceptible to automation.
However, this perspective overlooks the broader trend of workforce transformation towards roles that demand innovation, creativity, and emotional intelligence—skills that AI cannot easily replicate.
For instance, the emergence of technology in HR has streamlined administrative tasks, sourcing, and hiring the best people. However, it has also created a need for human professionals in areas that demand strategic thinking and interpersonal skills, such as talent management and employee engagement.
The rise of AI in customer service has automated routine inquiries, yet it has simultaneously increased the demand for human workers in roles that require nuanced understanding and empathy, such as handling complex customer issues or providing personalized services.
The healthcare sector provides a compelling example of this transition. AI technologies have automated administrative tasks and data analysis, allowing healthcare professionals to dedicate more time to patient care and complex medical decision-making.
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As the job market evolves in response to AI advancements, the demand for certain skills will rise.
Technical skills related to:
…will be in high demand, as will soft skills such as:
The ability to work alongside AI, leveraging its capabilities to enhance human productivity and creativity, will become a valuable asset.
Educational institutions and training programs are beginning to adapt to this new reality, emphasizing STEM education, coding, and data literacy, alongside critical soft skills.
For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has introduced the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, which integrates computer science and AI education with other academic disciplines, preparing students for a future where AI is ubiquitous across all fields of study and work.
Furthermore, lifelong learning and continuous skill development will become crucial for workers aiming to stay relevant in an AI-driven job market. Many educational platforms offer AI and machine learning courses, providing accessible pathways for individuals to acquire the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow.
Policy and organizational strategies for an AI-positive future
To maximize the positive impact of AI on the job market, policymakers and business leaders must implement strategies that support workforce transitions and skill development.
Governments can play a pivotal role by investing in education and training programs that are aligned with the needs of an AI-driven economy, providing incentives for businesses to retrain their employees, and developing social safety nets for those displaced by automation.
Organizations, on their part, need to prioritize the reskilling and upskilling of their employees, fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability.
HR departments will be at the forefront of this transformation, identifying skill gaps, and facilitating training programs that prepare workers for new roles within the AI-enhanced workplace.
Also, HR might provide specific AI tool usage policies to employees so there is a framework of actions and limitations.
Partnerships between the public sector, private sector, and educational institutions can also drive innovation in workforce development.
For instance, IBM’s P-TECH model offers a pathway from high school to industry, combining education in STEM fields with work experience and mentorship, preparing students for high-demand jobs in technology sectors, including those involving AI.
The bottom line
The journey through the evolving landscape of artificial intelligence and its impact on the job market reveals a narrative far more optimistic than the prevailing discourse of doom and displacement.
For individuals, the imperative is clear: embrace lifelong learning, adaptability, and the continuous development of both technical and soft skills.
For organizations and HR professionals, the challenge is to foster an environment that prioritizes reskilling, upskilling, and a culture of innovation.
And for policymakers, the task is to implement strategies that facilitate smooth transitions for workers, invest in education and training systems aligned with the future job market, and ensure that the benefits of AI are broadly shared across society.
Frequently asked questions
How does AI contribute to job creation?
AI can boost productivity and economic growth, potentially adding trillions to the global economy. It fosters new industries, enhancing the demand for jobs requiring innovation, creativity, and emotional intelligence.
What historical examples show technology's impact on jobs?
The introduction of the personal computer and automation in agriculture led to shifts towards new job fields, proving technology's role in creating more employment opportunities than it displaces.
What skills are essential in the AI era?
Skills in AI development, data analysis, cybersecurity, alongside soft skills like critical thinking, creativity, and interpersonal communication are highly valued as the job market evolves.
How can educational institutions prepare for AI's impact on the workforce?
Institutions are integrating AI and computer science education with other disciplines, emphasizing STEM, coding, data literacy, and critical soft skills to prepare students for an AI-driven future.
What strategies can maximize AI's positive impact on jobs?
Policymakers and leaders should invest in education and training aligned with an AI-driven economy, support workforce transitions, and foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptability.
New report: AI in hiring and the workplace
Nearly a thousand hiring managers in the US and UK shared how they're using AI in hiring and in work. We now have a survey report with the findings.