The Skills Needed to Survive the Robot Invasion of the Workplace
Automation is coming to the workplace.
Millions of jobs will be destroyed, but many jobs will also be simultaneously created in the process as well.
For those in the workforce – or for those just joining it for the first time – the big question is: what skills are needed to navigate this monumental shift in the economy? How will humans create value in an increasingly automated world?
The Human Touch
Today’s infographic comes to us from Guthrie Jensen, and it summarizes the skills needed in 2020 and beyond to take advantage of the shifting landscape of work.
In short, for those looking to future proof their careers, building competencies in areas that machines will be unlikely to tackle effectively (i.e. complex problem solving, creativity) is likely the best recipe for success.
It can be daunting to think about automation’s role in the future – but if you’re a bookkeeper, legal secretary, insurance underwriter, credit analyst, or any other person in a job with high automation potential, it would be prudent to be thinking long and hard about what you can offer beyond your existing set of skills and competencies.
Here’s just a quick look at automation potential of select positions, according to a study by Oxford University:
|Position||Chance of Automation||Position||Chance of Automation|
|Insurance Underwriter||99%||Computer Systems Analyst||0.7%|
|Bookkeeping Clerk||98%||Registered Nurse||0.9%|
|Real Estate Broker||97%||Sales Manager||1.3%|
|Budget Analyst||94%||PR Manager||1.5%|
So how do we set ourselves up for future success in a world where even real estate brokers are likely to be automated?
It Starts With Soft Skills
There are many considerations for career success during a time of significant change.
However, there’s a good case that skills – especially soft skills – are the most important foundation to build upon. These include things like the ability to communicate and work well with others, solve problems, and think outside of the box, as well as other aspects of emotional intelligence.
Here are some skills that experts say should be prioritized:
1. Complex Problem Solving
It’s true that AI can solve problems that humans cannot – but it also goes the other way. When problem solving needs to span multiple industries or when problems are not fully defined, humans can work backwards to figure out a solution.
2. Critical Thinking
Machines are getting better at aspects of critical thinking, but humans are still able to to connect, interpret and imagine concepts in a world full of ambiguity and nuance. A lawyer can pinpoint the exact positioning to make a case for a client, or a marketer can figure out an overarching message that can resonate with consumers.
Creativity requires a degree of intuitive randomness that can not yet be imitated by AI. Why did the architect design the building a certain way, and why did the musician improvise by playing a chord out of key? It’s hard to explain why to a computer – it just feels right.
Other important soft skills to consider?
People management, coordinating with others, decision-making, negotiation, and serving others will all be important going forward as well.
Which Jobs Will Be Most Impacted by ChatGPT?
OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT, have authored a research paper that tries to predict the impact of AI on the job market.
Jobs Most Impacted by ChatGPT and Similar AI Models
On November 30, 2022, OpenAI heralded a new era of artificial intelligence (AI) by introducing ChatGPT to the world.
The AI chatbot stunned users with its human-like and thorough responses. ChatGPT could comprehend and answer a variety of different questions, make suggestions, research and write essays and briefs, and even tell jokes (amongst other tasks).
Many of these skills are used by workers in their jobs across the world, which begs the question: which jobs will be transformed, or even replaced, by generative AI in the coming future?
This infographic from Harrison Schell visualizes the March 2023 findings of OpenAI on the potential labor market impact of large language models (LLMs) and various applications of generative AI, including ChatGPT.
The OpenAI working paper specifically examined the U.S. industries and jobs most “exposed” to large language models like GPT, which the chatbot ChatGPT operates on.
Key to the paper is the definition of what “exposed” actually means:
“A proxy for potential economic impact without distinguishing between labor-augmenting or labor-displacing effects.” – OpenAI
Thus, the results include both jobs where humans could possibly use AI to optimize their work, along with jobs that could potentially be automated altogether.
OpenAI found that 80% of the American workforce belonged to an occupation where at least 10% of their tasks can be done (or aided) by AI. One-fifth of the workforce belonged to an occupation where 50% of work tasks would be impacted by artificial intelligence.
The Jobs Most and Least at Risk of AI Disruption
Here is a list of jobs highlighted in the paper as likely to see (or already seeing) AI disruption, where AI can reduce the time to do tasks associated with the occupation by at least 50%.
Analysis was provided by a variety of human-made models as well as ChatGPT-4 models, with results from both showing below:
|Jobs||Categorized By||AI Exposure|
|Admin and legal assistants||AI||100%|
|Climate change policy analysts||AI||100%|
|Reporters & journalists||AI||100%|
|Mathematicians||Human & AI||100%|
|Writers & authors||Human||100%|
Editor’s note: The paper only highlights some jobs impacted. One AI model found a list of 84 additional jobs that were “fully exposed”, but not all were listed. One human model found 15 additional “fully exposed” jobs that were not listed.
Generally, jobs that require repetitive tasks, some level of data analysis, and routine decision-making were found to face the highest risk of exposure.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, “information processing industries” that involve writing, calculating, and high-level analysis have a higher exposure to LLM-based artificial intelligence. However, science and critical-thinking jobs within those industries negatively correlate with AI exposure.
On the flipside, not every job is likely to be affected. Here’s a list of jobs that are likely least exposed to large language model AI disruption.
|Jobs Least Exposed to AI|
|Large equipment operators||Barbers/hair stylists|
|Glass installers & repairers||Dredge operators|
|Automotive mechanics||Power-line installers/repairers|
|Masons, carpenters, roofers||Oil field maintenance workers|
|Plumbers, painters, pipefitters||Servers, dishwashers, bartenders|
Naturally, hands-on industries like manufacturing, mining, and agriculture were more protected, but still include information processing roles at risk.
Likewise, the in-person service industry is also expected to see minimal impact from these kinds of AI models. But, patterns are beginning to emerge for job-seekers and industries that may have to contend with artificial intelligence soon.
Artificial Intelligence Impacts on Different Levels of Jobs
OpenAI analyzed correlations between AI exposure in the labor market against a job’s requisite education level, wages, and job-training.
The paper found that jobs with higher wages have a higher exposure to LLM-based AI (though there were numerous low-wage jobs with high exposure as well).
|Job Parameter||AI Exposure Correlation|
Professionals with higher education degrees also appeared to be more greatly exposed to AI impact, compared to those without.
However, occupations with a greater level of on-the-job training had the least amount of work tasks exposed, compared to those jobs with little-to-no training.
Will AI’s Impact on the Job Market Be Good or Bad?
The potential impact of ChatGPT and similar AI-driven models on individual job titles depends on several factors, including the nature of the job, the level of automation that is possible, and the exact tasks required.
However, while certain repetitive and predictable tasks can be automated, others that require intangibles like creative input, understanding cultural nuance, reading social cues, or executing good judgement cannot be fully hands-off yet.
And keep in mind that AI exposure isn’t limited to job replacement. Job transformation, with workers utilizing the AI to speed up or improve tasks output, is extremely likely in many of these scenarios. Already, there are employment ads for “AI Whisperers” who can effectively optimize automated responses from generalist AI.
As the AI arms race moves forward at a rapid pace rarely seen before in the history of technology, it likely won’t take long for us to see the full impact of ChatGPT and other LLMs on both jobs and the economy.
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