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AI to drive workforce reductions over next 5 years, finds survey

Written by Mon 8 Apr 2024

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will result in companies reducing their workforce over the next five years, according to research by Swiss staffing provider, Adecco Group.

In a new survey called Leading Through the Great Disruption 2024, Adecco Group found that 41% of senior executives expect a reduction in workforce due to AI.

Although most senior executives surveyed by Adecco acknowledged AI as groundbreaking, the majority admit to insufficient progress in its adoption.

CEO of Adecco Group, Denis Machuel, told Reuters that almost all jobs will be impacted by AI ‘one way or another’, with AI either being a ‘job killer’ or a ‘job creator’.

“Ten years ago there was this big fear many jobs are going to be destroyed by digital when actually lots of jobs have been created by the digital world,” said Machuel.

With the expected surge in demand for these skills, 37% of business leaders predict a ‘significant increase’ in pay for AI-related roles in the next 12 months, contrasting with only 24% for white-collar and 9% for blue-collar roles.

Machuel added between jobs created by AI and jobs eliminated, the Adecco believes this will be balanced.

AI Talent Hired Externally

The survey revealed that 66% of respondents said they will buy AI-skilled talent externally, compared with just 34% who said they will develop their existing workforce.

The survey also found there is a notable difference between the strategies of buying and building when it comes to acquiring AI talent and other digital skills. A larger percentage of leaders (62%) prefer to hire data literacy experts from outside the organisation rather than invest in training their existing teams (36%).

Machuel recommended companies train their staff to collaborate with AI instead of depending solely on recruiting outside specialists to navigate disruptions.

“Companies must do more to reskill and redeploy teams to make the most of this technological leap and avoid unnecessary upheaval. Buying your way out of disruption should not be the only approach companies take,” said Machuel.

AI Skills gap Affects top Executives

The Adecco survey found the AI skills gap extends to the highest levels of companies, with 57% of C-Suite lacking confidence in understanding the ‘risks and opportunities’ of AI. Only 43% have formal AI training programmes, and just 50% provide guidance on AI usage to staff.

A total of 60% of respondents also plan to recruit to address digital literacy gaps, while 37% aim to develop internal capabilities. Machuel stressed the need for AI upskilling and its responsible implementation, with a focus on keeping people at the forefront of this transition.

“AI should be a tool that supports people’s unique creative potential and enables more time for strategic thinking and problem-solving,” said Machuel.

Adecco surveyed 2,000 global companies across Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Japan, Singapore, the US, Canada, Australia, and, spanning sectors such as defence, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, industry, and logistics.

Last week, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that 8 million UK jobs could be at risk from AI unless the Government intervenes. In ‘the first of its kind analysis’, the IPPR said the impact of generative AI could be significant and presents a crucial decision point.

If generative AI technologies are not regulated or managed appropriately, they could lead to widespread displacement and disruption of jobs in various sectors of the UK economy.

However, if the Government implements effective policies to harness the potential of generative AI while mitigating its negative impacts, there could be substantial economic growth and productivity gains, potentially leading to increased GDP.

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Written by Mon 8 Apr 2024

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