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How AI is Changing the Workforce

January 18, 2022

If you venture out it’s likely you will see the impact of worker shortages. Though unemployment rates have dropped from their pandemic peak, many companies are still struggling to fill in the gaps.  

Some of the reasons behind the gap are practical – people with close-contact jobs may not feel comfortable re-entering that environment. On the emotional side, the pandemic opened many workers’ eyes to the importance of a work/life balance and what they really want out of their careers. This has resulted in what many have coined as “the great resignation.” 

What this worker shortage leads to, says Tom Taulli for IT Business Edge, are supply chain interruptions and inflation – the highest since the 1980s.  

As employers look towards solutions, one keeps rising to the top: implementation of artificial intelligence (AI)

Taulli reports of several companies, including Uber, DoorDash, Lyft, and Southwest Airlines, that all incorporated AI into their hiring practices, resulting in greatly reduced time between an interview and a job offer. AI also offers greater opportunities to reach a wider spread of potential employees. 

In certain industries, such as customer service, where many questions are repetitive or similar in nature, AI can help improve processes and efficiency. 

“With AI-powered virtual assistants, companies can automatically resolve these [repetitive questions] and let human agents solely focus on more complex queries,” shared Puneet Mehta, founder and CEO of Netomi, in an interview with Taulli.  

In the manufacturing industry, which is experiencing larger shortages than many other industries, AI is viewed as a way to improve existing employee effectiveness and compensate for any employment shortages. 

“The common belief is that productivity and robustness against this type of fluctuation can be achieved by automation, but in several situations, automation is not an option due to the nature of the task,” writes Prasad Akella for Supply & Demand Chain Executive. “In this case, training and a different kind of automation — automation of data creation using artificial intelligence (AI) — will empower workers to make better and quicker decisions.” 

Video-based AI allows for constant monitoring with immediate feedback, meaning an error on an assembly line can be addressed as soon as identified by retraining workers on what needs to be corrected, says Akella, making training “easier, faster, and broader.” 

Not only has AI helped to fill labor gaps, many employees have started to view it as a way to help advance their careers. 

Oracle conducted an AI at Work survey of almost 15,000 full-time workers employed at every level, from senior management down.  

“The majority (85%) of people taking the Oracle survey said they want technology to help define their future — to identify the skills they need, ways to learn those new skills, and next steps forward in their careers,” reports Alicia Doniger for CNBC. “More specifically, the Oracle study found that 82% of employees believe AI can support their careers better than humans.” 

In other words, AI is growing as a tool in the world of human resources to help employees reach their maximum potential while increasing satisfaction.  

Oracle says that AI can help identify skills gaps, skills that need further development, related educational opportunities, and connections to career ambassadors, shares Doniger. IBM, meanwhile, uses AI to assign projects best suited to their skills and interests. 

“Experts say as business transformation through digitization has taken off, the conversation has extended to technology and employees and the convenience of accessing everything from the palm of one’s hands in personal life has translated to the world of work,” says Doniger. 

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