Navigating AI: futureproofing your career

If you're interested in the generative AI abilities or actively looking for a job in tech, you're probably asking yourself – how do I begin to master AI? And how can I break into it?

Let's define what AI refers to in this context. It’s an application that emulates human capabilities such as rationality, perception and comprehension of natural language. It derives insights from data patterns and can autonomously enhance its outputs. 

Recent advancements in generative AI such as ChatGPT has captured widespread attention and many are considering its application in our professional lives. The technology isn't confined to factory floors or back offices; making its way into creative and professional white collar fields – dispelling the notion that AI would only displace blue-collar jobs. AI algorithms are already integral to our daily lives, made evident by the applications on our phones.  

While its adoption by individuals has skyrocketed, corporate adoption of large language models (LLMs) is still in its early stages. It means the impact on the job market remains constrained at the moment, but this will change as enterprises embrace new AI-powered applications, which will reshape work practices permanently. In the UK, almost a third (30 per cent) of organisations are using some form of AI – with 68 per cent of large companies adopting it, but the definition of AI is broad. AI adoption is lower in the US where only 25 per cent of companies are using it, and even less in Australia at 24 per cent. China is leading the world with 58 per cent of businesses using AI in some way with India close behind at 57 per cent. The tangible effects will be realised when LLMs are incorporated into everyday work tools, such as CRMs and collaboration platforms, ultimately becoming ubiquitous. These technologies are expected to integrate into enterprise-level platforms like Salesforce and Oracle, signifying a significant shift on the horizon. 

Every industry needs to prepare for the changes ahead. A majority will need to reskill in one way or another – with adaptability being the key to success. For instance, take Ikea’s recent initiative which automated 50 per cent of its incoming customer calls and retraining 8,500 call centre staff as interior design consultants – an excellent example of upskilling and transitioning to cultivate revenue streams rather than just using AI as a cost-cutting measure. 

Indeed, over the next five years, AI is poised to create more jobs than it displaces, with the most significant challenges coming from the lag in skills development. This revolution is unfolding at an unparalleled pace and promises to increase productivity, which has stagnated in recent years. 
Companies venturing into AI adoption face several challenges, including issues related to education, trust, a skills gap, and the potential risks surrounding bias, security and privacy. Effective governance plays a pivotal role in managing these challenges.

Securing your place in an AI future

The rise of generative AI, used across many white collar and creative professions highlights that these fields, once considered protected by automation, are not immune to disruption. However, within this disruption lies opportunity. It’s important to remember – jobs aren’t evaporating; they're evolving. Think back to when calculators were expected to replace the entire accountancy industry at one stage, or that video will kill the radio star. Adaptability is the key so consider these actions to  ensure your place in the AI-driven future.

AI literacy

Those who fail to become AI literate will not be as productive as those who do, and the gap will become increasingly noticeable. The good news is that LLMs are inherently user-friendly and accessible. Workers should acquaint themselves with the capabilities of AI tools and learn to integrate them in their daily work and personal lives. There are plenty of reputable resources such as Google Cloud Skills Boost and Career Essentials in Generative AI by Microsoft and LinkedIn which can provide a great starting point. Employees must also be aware of its limitations and risks. At Goldman Sachs AI is used to generate as much as 45 per cent of their code, for example, so developers will need AI as a required skill as it becomes a fundamental requirement for their role. AI will be integrated into MS Office as Microsoft 365 Copilot, meaning AI will become another standard requirement, much like email or excel has become.

Lifelong learning and human skills

In the ever-evolving landscape of AI, workers will need to prioritise continuous skill development through online resources and courses. In a world of work where AI tools may become ubiquitous, soft skills such as leadership, creativity and empathy will take on an even greater significance for differentiation.

Harness AI as a tool, instead of a crutch

AI is a valuable work tool, much in the same way we have all utilised Google Search. It can do some of the groundwork, but it still needs human oversight. Using AI for brainstorming during a job search? Great. Relying exclusively on AI for your CV? Not recommended. 
The tech and work landscape is changing. From the potential collaboration of conversational AI with Elon Musk's humanoid robots to the evolution of traditional job roles. The question to ask isn't, "How do I initiate a career in AI?" but "How can I harness AI to elevate my career?" 
Whether you're embarking on your professional journey or contemplating a shift into the tech domain, keep in mind that the synergy between AI and human potential is formidable. The future will blend technology and human intuition, and at Hays, we're here to help guide you through it. 
Sound interesting? If you’re interested in a career in Automation and AI, get in contact with our team.