These are the jobs most likely to be lost – and created – because of AI

Ian Shine, Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
Kate Whiting, Senior Writer, Forum Agenda

  • Around 40% of all working hours could be impacted by AI large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT-4, says a report from Accenture.
  • Many clerical or secretarial roles are seen as likely to decline quickly because of AI, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023.
  • But roles for AI and machine learning specialists, data analysts and scientists, and digital transformation specialists are expected to grow rapidly, the report adds.
  • Reskilling people to use AI effectively will be the key to companies being able to use the technology successfully, says Accenture.

How would you feel about working as a human alarm clock? It’s a job people used to do before the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. They would go around the dark, cold streets and tap on people’s windows with long sticks to wake them up for work.

The invention of the mechanical alarm clock changed all that, and many people are now asking which 21st-century jobs artificial intelligence (AI) and the Fourth Industrial Revolution could consign to the history books.

Professional services company Accenture describes the arrival of large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT-4 as “a significant turning point and milestone in artificial intelligence … [because] they’ve cracked the code on language complexity”.

It estimates that 40% of all working hours could be impacted by large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT-4. “This is because language tasks account for 62% of the total time employees work,” it says.

However, the good news is that this doesn’t mean machines will simply replace humans. Accenture says that 65% of the time we spend on these “language tasks” can be “transformed into more productive activity through augmentation and automation”.

Fig3: Generative AI will transform work across industries
AI is expected to change how we spend our time at work. Image: Accenture

People will be at the heart of successful AI use

The potential for AI to reshape the world of work means companies need to start learning now to avoid being left behind, Accenture says. A big part of this will involve ensuring their staff are developing the new skills that will be required in the age of AI.

“Success with generative AI requires an equal attention on people and training as it does on technology,” Accenture says. “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.”

It says companies need to break down existing roles into “underlying bundles of tasks” in order to understand where AI has a chance to save time and improve the way we work.

Once this has been established, organizations can upskill employees so that they are ready to take on new positions involving the use of AI. “There will also be entirely new roles to recruit, including linguistics experts, AI quality controllers, AI editors, and prompt engineers,” Accenture says.

Figure 5: Reinventing a customer service job, task by task. To assess how specific jobs will be reinvented with AI, an Accenture analysis decomposed one customer service job into 13 components tasks. We found: 4 tasks would continue to be performed primarily by humans, with low potential for automation or augmentation. 4 tasks could be fully automated such as gathering, classifying, and summarizing information on why a customer is contacting the company. 5 tasks could be augmented to help humans work more effectivey – such as usiing an AI summary to provide a rapid solution with a human touch. Importantly, new job tasks might also be needed to ensure the safe, accurate and responsible use of AI in customer service settings, such as providing unbiases information on products and pricing.
Breaking down roles into ‘bundles of tasks’ can help firms assess the potential impact of AI. Image: Accenture.

The jobs AI could create

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 says that AI and machine learning specialists, data analysts and scientists, and digital transformation specialists are the most prominent emerging roles.

It predicts a 40% jump in the number of AI and machine learning specialists by 2027, a 30-35% rise in demand for roles such as data analysts and scientists or big data specialists, and a 31% increase in demand for information security analysts. This would add a combined 2.6 million jobs.

On the flipside, some jobs are seen as likely to decline quickly because of AI. These are mostly clerical or secretarial roles, and include bank tellers and data entry clerks.

Here are the top 10 jobs the Forum sees growing fastest – and declining fastest – in the next five years:

Fastest growing vx. fastest declining jobs
AI and machine learning specialists top the list of fastest growing jobs. Image: World Economic Forum

All this is leading companies to rethink their priorities when it comes to training staff to work with AI and big data. It is the number three priority in company training strategies to 2027, and number one for companies with more than 50,000 employees, the Future of Jobs Report 2023 says.

How AI will impact the future of jobs

The Forum’s report also finds that workplace tasks are seen as no more automated now than they were three years ago. To some extent, that’s because automation had been occurring already, the Forum’s Managing Director, Saadia Zahidi, told the Radio Davos podcast.

“But when it comes to very human traits like coordinating between people, like helping with decision-making and reasoning or communicating, that’s where actually you see an uptick. That’s where you see a greater prediction around automation than before.

“It’s not surprising because we’ve all seen what is happening with generative AI and how fast that’s getting adopted across various industries.”

Artificial intelligence is expected to be adopted by nearly 75% of surveyed companies and to lead to high churn – with 50% of organizations believing it will result in job growth and 25% thinking it will create job losses, the Future of Jobs Report says.

Human-machine frontier. Proportion of tasks completed by humans vs machines.2022: Machine 34% vs Human 66%. 2023: Machine 43% vs Human 57% Source : World Economic Forum, Future of Jobs 2023.
How tasks could be split between humans and machines in the coming years. Image: World Economic Forum.

The Forum’s recent Growth Summit 2023 at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland explored AI and other areas that will impact the world of work. This year’s summit focused on “jobs and opportunity for all”, and explored areas such as supporting job creation, enabling job transitions and how best to invest in education and skills.

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