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Ernst & Young surveys AI impact on workforce, predicts massive hiring spree

Professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY) predicts that rising artificial intelligence (AI) adoption rates will fuel a hiring spree in the coming months as firms seek a competitive advantage in a fast-paced global economy.

EY reached the hypothesis following a survey of over 250 high-ranking executives in the technology industry, noting that the sector is in a prime position for the highest level of impact by AI.

In its Technology Pulse Poll, 50% of respondents are bracing for a hiring spree within six months stemming from the creation of new roles. However, the executives are wary that generative AI could wipe out several entry-level roles, and customer care roles are expected to be severely affected.

While firms anticipate new hires, a cross-section of respondents have expressed fears over the difficulty of sourcing top talent, with job candidates obfuscating their skills using AI and other emerging technologies.

“Companies are reshaping their workforce to be more AI savvy,” said Vamsi Duvvuri, EY Technology, Media and Telecommunications AI Leader. “With this transition, we can anticipate a continuous cycle of strategic workforce realignment, characterized by simultaneous layoffs and hiring, and not necessarily in equal volumes.”

Despite the hiring spree, the poll revealed an upward trend of employees turning to generative AI offerings to improve workplace productivity and efficiency. 72% of executives confirm AI use cases within their organization, with employees leaning on the offerings for coding, internal communication, and data analysis.

Apart from challenges around hiring and layoffs, respondents say they are treading with caution over fears of security breaches and data leaks from AI use. Following this, nearly 90% of respondents are pushing for internal guardrails to promote safe usage, while a majority say tighter regulations will mitigate associated risks.

Other areas of concern include copyright infringement, the steep cost of upskilling employees, and AI-generated bias, but respondents opine that the benefits significantly outweigh the downsides.

A changing workforce

Several studies are forecasting changes to the global workforce due to generative AI adoption. One report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) notes that while productivity is poised to spike by 40%, advanced economies are at a higher risk of job losses from automation.

Another study by IBM (NASDAQ: IBM) says that nearly two billion individuals will require new AI skills to remain competitive in the workplace. Per the report, the seismic upskilling drive will affect finance, procurement, marketing, and customer service employees.

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