The Workforce
As immense as a tsunami, the wave of artificial intelligence has already started creeping toward the shores of innovation, promising to change the way society lives, works and interacts with each other. AI is no longer a futuristic concept; it is a reality that is already transforming industries and societies around the world. Despite the potential benefits, AI also poses a considerable threat to the workforce. With estimates suggesting that nearly 15% of jobs worldwide could be vulnerable to displacement due to automation, the implications of AI for the future of work are profound and far-reaching.

The Rise of AI

All over the globe, artificial intelligence and AI have begun to permeate the everyday life of people. This technology has already transformed the way people engage with the world around them, from personal gadgets like smartphones and virtual assistants to large-scale systems like transportation networks and financial institutions. And as this demand grows, the technology itself also continues to evolve. One study by NVIDIA found that over the past 18 months, the performance gains of their A100 GPUs have increased by a factor of almost five. This unprecedented speed and scale provide a glimpse into the potential applications of these technologies in the future.

Impact on Jobs

As AI technology advance and becomes more prevalent, it brings with it a slew of potential issues, the most common of which is job displacement. According to a Zippia report, countries such as Greece and Slovakia in Europe face a risk of losing more than 50% of their jobs due to computerization. Occupations in data entry, manufacturing, machining, customer service, labor and inventory management are particularly at risk, as these are areas where AI and automation are most likely to have a significant impact.

Low-income Families

These changes are likely to have the most consequential influence on low-income households and regions. Many low-income families rely on low-skill jobs as their only source of income. Unfortunately, the AI industry could displace 50% of these jobs over the next 5 years. As machines become more prevalent in the workplace, the demand for low-skilled workers may continue to decrease, leading to a potential reduction in wages and benefits.

Possible Intervention Efforts

Fortunately, there are a number of steps that can help protect or transition the workforce in the age of AI. Some of these steps could involve investing in skilled-training programs and implementing protection periods for workers who face exposure to job loss due to AI. For instance, the fund-based “SkillsFuture” program that Singapore introduced in 2015 has already achieved measurable success.

The program’s more than 660,000 beneficiaries, including those who received the $500 credit and benefited from the training and professional assistance programs were able to easily transition into and out of the workforce as new technologies underwent development. In Canada, a similar program, “Future Skills Centre,” has also emerged. Through this program, more than 36,000 participants from more than 20 different economic sectors were able to receive practical professional training to help them get ready for and adjust to the changing workplace.

Looking Ahead

In the face of AI’s potential impact on jobs, there are promising interventions that can help mitigate its effects. Investments in skilled-training programs and the implementation of protection periods for at-risk workers can provide crucial support during the transition. Successful initiatives like Singapore’s “SkillsFuture” and Canada’s “Future Skills Centre” demonstrate the effectiveness of such measures in equipping individuals with the necessary skills to navigate the changing landscape of work. With proactive efforts and inclusive policies, societies can embrace the opportunities presented by AI while safeguarding the well-being of their workforce.

– Sanjith Sambath
Photo: Flickr