Employers face hiring crisis as AI replaces mid-skilled jobs

Artificial intelligence could replace two-thirds of existing jobs within 20 years, and employers will face growing difficulties recruiting skilled staff

Employers will face a crisis hiring and developing skilled staff as artificial intelligence (AI) begins to shake up the structure of the workforce.

Over the next decade, artificial intelligence will replace the jobs of millions of people in the middle-income part of workforce.

The change will lead to greater inequality in the workforce, which will diverge into people on low wage manual jobs and highly paid experts in their field, with very little in between, said Kevin Green, chairman of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

“There is no doubt AI and automation will destroy work activity over the next 10 years. There is a broad estimate from the Bank of England that 15 million jobs will go – PWC estimated 10 million in the UK alone. There is going to be a significant amount or restructuring of work activity,” he said, speaking in advance of an industry conference.

A radical shift in the workforce will leave employers facing tighter competition for skilled workers. Those with lower skills will find it hard to progress to higher skilled jobs, as more mid-range jobs are automated.

This will put pressure on employers to find new ways to hire and recruit staff, and to work flexibly to deploy freelance specialists when they need them

“If you think about skill and talent shortages we have, nothing compared to what we have in future. Organisations are going to have to work harder to attract talent over the next decade,” said Green, who will be speaking at the Unleash Conference on the future of work and technology next week. 

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Green argues that AI will bring about a new industrial revolution that will follow a different pattern to those of previous industrial revolutions.

Self-driving cars, will lead to the loss of 1 million jobs, eliminating the need for taxi and bus drivers. Customer service jobs and claims processing jobs will be replaced by software. In total, two-thirds of existing jobs are likely to disappear, Green predicts.

New jobs will be created, for people with data analytics skills, but they will not make up for the number of jobs that will be lost.

“We are going to end up with greater inequality. You will have a lot more haves, bright professional people who will be okay. But a lot of people will be displaced.”

Longer life expectancy – with 80% or 90% of the next generation expected to live until 100 – will mean people will retire later and remain in the labour market for longer.

“Where this is going to lead for society is that we end up with people finding it more difficult to progress and being in the jobs market longer,” he said.

Organisations have a poor track record at retaining staff but will need to get better, if they are to meet the challenges posed by AI. “More and more people are dissatisfied by work and how they are managed and led but most of the data shows things are not improving. They are getting worse,” he said.

Recruitment approach

The traditional approach to recruiting, where companies use CVs and interviews to select candidates, has a poor record at finding people that will perform best in the job. 

In the future companies will need to look at the potential of job-seekers – their ability to think creatively or to solve problems – rather than focus narrowly on their existing skills and their past employment history.

“If you think about skill and talent shortages we have, it’s nothing compared to what we have in future,” said Green.

Employers will increasingly form partnerships and work collaboration with different organisations to find the skilled people they need.

A mid-size company might work  with two or more suppliers, said Green. “What they are effectively doing is buying in capability.”

Technology will allow employees or contractors to work in more flexible ways. “It enables people to have more freedom where and when they work. With the key drivers around talent, a lot of about money and reward, but flexibility ranks higher for people,” said Green.

The more liberal organisations are, and the more they use technology to balance home and work life, the more they will be seen to be attractive places to work.

Identifying candidates

He predicts that employers will use programming techniques, such as artificial intelligence, to identify candidates for posts, and manage partnerships.

“There will be more online interviewing, completing online questionaries’ to test range of abilities, such as numeric and verbal reasoning. Technology will provide automation and constancy,” he said.

One telecommunications company, for example, is using facial recognition technology to analyse candidates responses when thy answer interview questions. It can identify whether candidates are under stress, and whether they are being honest, said Green.

Using algorithms in this way will raise new ethical questions. A recruitment algorithm developed by four white men, for example, may contain a bias against women or people of colour.

HR departments and CIOs will need to work more collaboratively, to draw technology developed to reach customers to help companies fill vacancies and retain their staff.

The HR and IT departments will move closer together, creating a more symbiotic relationship.

“HR will become a customer of CIO and the IT team, and will advise HR how we deploy technology to service our staff. Why can’t we create better employee engagement using technology we use to service our customers?” he says. 

Kevin Green will be speaking at the Unleash Conference & Expo on the Future of Work and Technology, 20-21 March 2018 at the ExCeL London. Watch a video of Kevin Green’s TEDx talk here.

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