AI and Machine Learning are Changing the World. Are IT Jobs at Risk?

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are making inroads into our lives on a daily basis. It won’t be long before steadily increasing investments in AI and machine learning to transform the way we live, work and play. What will this mean for the workforce?

Like many technological breakthroughs in the past, we can expect some jobs to vanish, new ones to crop up and still others to require some re-engineering to adjust to new ways of doing things and new ways of working with machines. Although it is true that technology can do certain tasks with far greater speed and efficiency than humans. A much more common scenario is that technology takes over the most time-consuming and least engaging tasks. In doing so, it frees up people to focus their energies on those aspects of a job that require greater degrees of human intellect, creativity and collaboration.

How Big Is the Risk?

Economists estimate that AI and machine learning will negate the need for many lower-level skills. This could impact the trucking industry, transportation industry, and delivery services. Other at-risk roles include telemarketers, office administrators and support staff, cashiers and retail clerks, bookkeepers and accountants. Economist Brian Arthur estimates that the influence of AI could eliminate as many as 100 million jobs across the globe. Economists at Oxford University estimate that automation may put up to 47% of American jobs at high risk.

What’s missing from these kinds of sweeping predictions is that, in many cases, we are more likely to see the elimination of tasks, not necessarily entire jobs. Automation of repetitive, time-consuming tasks creates opportunities for:

  1. Enhanced engagement as responsibility shifts to activities that require strategic thinking, analysis and the empathy that only a human can provide.
  2. Greater flexibility in terms of when and where work is done.

What’s the IT Jobs Risk and Opportunity?

Even though many IT roles require higher-level, complex skills, not all IT jobs are safe. Take, for example, help desk roles. As with most customer service occupations, the skills required to answer standard questions and resolve common issues are increasingly being handed off to automated systems, featuring auto-attendant and chat bot technologies. Programmers, system administrators and manufacturing technicians may also need to rethink on their career options as AI and machine learning make inroads in these professions.

Most technologists, however, can expect demand for their services to increase significantly. Look at any ranking of high-demand jobs and you will see IT dominating. From 2016 to 2026, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the U.S. economy will add more than half a million new IT jobs. That represents growth of 13 percent, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations. In fact, the growth rate for some IT roles will far exceed to:

  • Information Security Analysts: 28%
  • Software Developers: 24%
  • Web Developers: 15%

Why such significant growth? The most obvious answer is the fact that more technology professionals will be needed to drive the growth of AI and machine learning. Gartner estimates the creation of 2.3 million AI jobs by 2020. Capgemini says 83 percent of companies using AI have added jobs because of it.

How will these growth expectation impact IT jobs? According to job aggregator Indeed, the top 10 AI-related jobs are:

  1. Data scientist
  2. Software engineer
  3. Machine learning engineer
  4. Software architect
  5. Data analyst
  6. Data warehouse engineer
  7. Full stack developer
  8. Research scientist
  9. Front end developer
  10. Product manager

How Else Will AI and Machine Learning Impact the Workforce?

Not only AI and machine learning will impact the demand for certain jobs, it will also impact the way that jobs are found. In IT recruitment, for example, AI and machine learning help expedite processes so that we can work faster and smarter. AI and machine learning help us pre-screen candidates to hone in on the best matches. This starts on the job boards and integrates with our own processes, which use interactive chat bots to ask candidates a series of pre-screening questions. This helps us speed up the entire hiring process. From identifying the right candidates faster and getting those candidates scheduled for in-person interviews sooner. AI doesn’t eliminate IT recruiters; it makes IT recruiters more effective and productive.

Get Ready!

There is no question that AI and machine learning will bring tremendous change, but that change may be more evolutionary than revolutionary. IDC forecasts a quadruple jump in spending on AI and machine learning from 2017 to 2021, but that spending still represents only a small fraction of the total tech bucket. Expect to see increased AI and machine learning pilots and implementations as businesses identify ways to take advantage of the technology. Stay current on trends and take steps to ensure your skills evolve as needed to meet a future where people and machines co-exist. If you’re looking to explore opportunities in AI and machine learning, connect with us and we’ll walk you through your next big tech move.