The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), consisting of 38 member countries, including the UK, Japan, Germany, the US, Australia, and Canada, reports that AI could threaten 27% of jobs within its member countries.
According to the report, highly skilled jobs are most at risk from AI-driven automation. Some sectors at significant risk from automation require years of education and experience, including finance, medicine, and legal jobs, which are traditionally considered secure.
Highly skilled occupations, particularly those within law, culture, science, engineering, and business, are also potentially vulnerable.
Despite risks, the OECD also stated that AI currently transforms jobs rather than replaces them outright.
The OECD urges action to ensure AI is responsibly and trustworthily utilized in the workplace and education. This includes AI literacy courses taught in schools and universities.
The UK’s Russell Group of universities recently released a joint statement urging increased AI literacy among universities.
The OECD says, “Increasingly rapid AI development and adoption means that new skills will be needed, while others will change or become obsolete. Training is needed for both low-skilled and older workers, but also for higher-skilled workers. Governments should encourage employers to provide more training, integrate AI skills into education, and support diversity in the AI workforce.”
The report isn’t all about large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT – it also discusses computer vision (CV), where AIs extract and predict features in image and video, a technology that enables driverless vehicles and manufacturing automation technologies.
AI risks hitting some harder than others
According to the report, countries like the UK, Luxembourg, Sweden, and the US have the lowest share of jobs at high risk.
In contrast, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Italy are at the higher end of the risk spectrum.
While the OECD argues that AI adoption remains low, they indicate economies are on the brink of rapid uptake, and transitions will be swift. Moreover, the report acknowledges AI’s potential to eliminate tedious or hazardous tasks and direct humans to more engaging, higher-level tasks.
However, it also notes that businesses openly admit one of the main motivations for investing in AI is to improve worker productivity and cut staff costs, which may negatively impact jobs. It’s a somewhat paradoxical situation – can AI cut staffing costs without risking cutting jobs?
The report also cautions about the role of AI in hiring, citing AI-driven tools could perpetuate existing socio-demographic biases in the labor market.
The authors argue, “The OECD AI Principles therefore call on AI actors to implement mechanisms and safeguards that ensure capacity for human intervention and oversight, to promote human-centred values and fairness in AI systems.”
This is a comprehensive and well-referenced report on AI’s impact on the labor and job market. While AI will undoubtedly disrupt the labor market, McKinsey recently predicted it’ll contribute $4.4 trillion to the global economy annually.