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AI, skills and employment

Emily Rand & LOTI / Better Images of AI / AI City / CC-BY 4.0

In an interesting article on the UK LMI for All website, AI, Skills and Jobs: Some considerations on the future based on the current evidence, Terence Hogarth looks at what may happen to future employment and skills due to AI. He says:

In thinking about AI, or any kind of automation for that matter, it is useful to consider three inter-related concepts:

  • automation – where machines take over some or all of the tasks undertaken in a job;
  • augmentation – where the same machines complement the tasks undertaken by workers such that their productivity increases; and
  • task reinstatement – where new tasks or new jobs emerge as a consequence of new technologies being introduced.

He says technological change does not take place in a static environment.

Technology creates new tasks and new jobs. Accordingly, there is a task reinstatement effect where new jobs or new tasks emerge (Acemoglu and Restrepo, 2018). So long as the reinstatement effect is bigger than the automation one, then labour demand will increase.

He looks at research undertaken by the DfE Unit for Future Skills (DfE, 2023). showing the top 10 occupations most exposed and least exposed to AI with a distinction between all AI applications and large language mode

Table 1: Occupations most exposed to AI

Exposure   to all AI applicationsExposure   to large language modelling
1Management consultants and business analystsTelephone salespersons
2Financial managers and directorsSolicitors
3Charted and certified accountantsPsychologists
4PsychologistsFurther education teaching professionals
5Purchasing managers and directorsMarket and street traders and assistants
6Actuaries, economists and statisticiansLegal professionals n.e.c.
7Business and financial project management professionalsCredit controllers
8Finance and investment analysts and advisersHuman resource administration occupations
9Legal professionals n.e.c.Public relations professionals
10Business and related associate professionals n.e.c.Management consultant and business analysts

Source: Table 1, p.12, DfE (2023)

Table 2: Occupations least exposed to AI

Exposure to all AI applicationsExposure to large language modelling
1Sports playersFork-lift truck drivers
2Roofers, roof tilers and slatersRoofers, roof tilers and slaters
3Elementary construction occupationsSteel erectors
4PlasterersVehicle valeters and cleaners
5Steel erectorsElementary construction occupations
6Vehicle valeters and cleanersPlasterers
7Hospital portersMetal plate workers, and riveters
8Cleaners and domesticsVehicle paint technicians
9Floorers and wall tilersFloorers and wall tilers
10Metal plate workers, and rivetersMobile machine drivers and operatives n.e.c.

Source: Table 2, p.13, DfE (2023)

Terrence Hogarth says it is apparent that AI has the potential to affect relatively high skilled jobs much more than low skilled ones. But he warns that there is a degree of uncertainty about how jobs are affected. "if there is to be a reinstatement effect the impact on productivity needs to be substantial otherwise there is a risk that (some) jobs are simply replaced by automation without the concomitant creation of new jobs."

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