Can ChatGPT bridge the skills gap in the workforce?
By Ian Cook, VP Research and Strategy at Visier
Imagine turning up to work and being asked by your boss to spend an hour researching the best places to take an important client or prospect out for dinner. Now imagine a world in which Chat GPT did it for you. And you instead used that time to get ahead of emails for the day, or work on some other value-add task. Result.
But, as exciting – and time saving – as this sounds – it’s hard to imagine what we can’t quite see.
The question “What does ChatGPT mean for my job?” since the generative AI tool rolled out is therefore one that many of us are asking ourselves, our co-workers, friends and families. For many, they’ll already be embracing the tool. But understandably, others are sceptical. “Will AI replace me?”, “What happens to me if I don’t understand how to use AI”? “Should I already be using AI”?
And whilst ChatGPT is the latest AI trend capable of understanding context and generating replies that are conversational and human-like, the reality of the role AI has in the workplace, is much more complex.
The UK is facing a massive skills shortage- in fact four in five businesses are struggling to fill vacancies due to a lack of skilled workers. It’s the highest number in seventeen years. Industries from energy, healthcare, computing, construction and real estate are feeling the gap, with those groups having the most critical shortages.
So, with many companies unable to hire quickly enough to plug these gaps, we’re now seeing organisations look to the potential of AI as a tool to plug this gap. This is being referred to as collaborative intelligence, which envisions a world whereby humans and AI work alongside one another to complement capabilities, not replace them.
Maximising talent potential in every industry
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), approximately 3.4 million skilled cybersecurity professionals are currently lacking to meet demand in the sector. To cope, many organisations are now turning to AI to automate their detection and response to cyber threats, freeing up their skilled cybersecurity professionals to focus on innovation and creative efforts. By automating routine tasks like this and augmenting human capabilities, AI tools have the potential to help alleviate a chronic skilled worker shortage that is plaguing a range of industries such as cyber-security.
Other examples include medicine, where AI can automate administrative tasks like updating patient records or allowing doctors to focus more on patient care. AI and wearable health monitoring devices can help doctors analyse patient data more quickly and accurately, allowing for remote, faster and more accurate diagnoses in an industry facing more staff shortages by the month.
As innovation accelerates however, the need for better training and reskilling is only growing more acute. AI however has the potential to optimise training programmes and accelerate learning processes for new hires. For example, the NHS is exploring using AI to deliver personalised training recommendations and insights to accelerate the onboarding of new healthcare professionals.
Solving the skills-gap puzzle
Most companies worldwide (87%) are aware that they either already have a skills gap, or will have one within a few years, according to McKinsey.
One reason for this skills gap is that traditional job title barriers often hinder an employee’s career trajectory. Connecting all the dots and mapping employees’ skills in the organisation can be a challenging task. For example, a copywriter on a marketing team whose job is being supplanted by ChatGPT may make an exceptional salesperson. Their product knowledge and compelling pitching ability could be a perfect transfer to the sales department.
And whilst a new generation of AI-powered platforms has the power to uncover connections between employees’ skills which are not always recognised by humans. A new generation of AI-powered HR platforms is taking a different approach. The latest skills-mapping programs dig deep into work history, educational background, and social profiles, identifying transferable skills and skill gaps across roles and organisations, offering solutions. Skills mapping can also help organisations rethink roles by identifying skills that can be combined to create new positions and eliminate redundancies. In a context where jobs are evolving quickly, tapping AI to match transferable skills will enable companies to fill gaps and promote from within.
Leaving more freedom for creativity
By offloading time-intensive tasks and optimising processes, AI can free up human workers to focus on higher-value activities that require problem solving, creativity, and critical thinking. For example, time intensive tasks such as data analysis and gathering insights can be offloaded to AI. This automation allows human workers to focus on more complex and strategic tasks that require human creativity and critical thinking. It’s important to note that while AI can enhance creative capabilities, strategy, and critical thinking are still essential for developing compelling creative concepts, storytelling, and overall ideas.
Of course, the positive view of ChatGPT is vastly compelling. It can complement our everyday tasks that drain time. How often have you thought at work that a robot could fill this boring and laborious spreadsheet in? Starting a new job and struggling to write a LinkedIn post? ChatGPT can write it in two seconds flat.
ChatGPT has shone a spotlight on just how fast AI is moving and the potential the technology has to further disrupt the workplace. With skills gaps widening across the UK, in key industries like the NHS, AI will be able to alleviate a wide range of pain points. It can support employers in bridging crucial skills gaps and optimise and accelerate training programmes to support businesses in making the most of their resources. Whilst AI has a real potential to support the future of work, organisations must make sure to ensure they are augmenting human efforts, rather than positioning AI as a complete replacement.