Higher-level jobs more likely to be disrupted by AI: report

Occupations with the highest skillset levels, including finance, technology and business, are more likely to be affected by generative artificial intelligence (AI) systems, a new report by the Government-backed Future Skills Organisation (FSO) has found, with Gen AI expected to radically reshape how individuals train and upskill for these jobs.

The Impact of generative AI on skills in the workplace report, released by the FSO, an Australian Government-commissioned council developed to address the current labour and skills shortages and future-proof the country’s VET sector, and consultancy Mandala Partners, has found that occupations with the highest required skill level were more likely to change as a result of Gen AI, as these jobs tended to rely more heavily on cognitive skills that AI excels in.

Chief executive of the Future Skills Organisation, Patrick Kidd, said he was excited by the opportunities brought by AI to the future of work, but also warned that generative AI would have a significant impact on “what we learn and how we train”. The primary impact, Kidd said, is likely to be seen on training systems at the university level.

Following this, within the VET system, higher-level qualifications such as graduate certificates and diplomas were also more likely to face disruption.

According to the report, the greatest exposure to generative AI was found in financial services and business services training packages, followed by ICT.

The occupations facing the greatest exposure, according to the report, included human resources, accounting, banking and marketing and communications.

We know that Australia’s finance, technology and business sectors are some of the most innovative, creative and resilient sectors. AI has the potential to establish new ways of conducting business, with tasks being automated, augmented or adapted, and ultimately shifting how we create, consume and engage with content,” Kidd said.

“While the opportunity to increase our productivity is clear, we should also expect some jobs to be fundamentally changed by AI. We need to plan now for how the workforce will transition so we can realise our potential in this environment.

“To determine the impact on Australia’s training system, and in particular VET, we mapped estimates of the impact on the human abilities that form the fundamental building blocks of tasks, skills and occupations. This allowed us to estimate the impacts at the occupation, qualification and unit of competency level,” Mandala’s director, Tom McMahon, added.

“To determine the unit of competency AI exposure score, we extracted the performance criteria of relevant FSO training packages, fed the data into the GPT-4 API with a custom system message to translate the criteria into abilities scored out of 10 for each unit of competency. We then sense-checked this using a statistical analysis and random checks returned by the language learning model ensuring they aligned with reasonable expectations.”

According to McMahon, the understanding of the exposure of AI in fields across fields such as finance, technology and business, like banking, project management, accounting and software development, was crucial to creating a diverse and skilled workforce.

The data from the Growing Australia’s Digital Workforce report projected that the country would have a 370,000 digital worker shortfall by 2026.

“These findings allow us to more clearly understand the current and emerging influences and trends impacting the VET system, allowing us to equip training providers and students with the skills to harness this potential rather than be passive bystanders,” Kidd said.

“Ultimately, our core mission is to close the skills gap facing Australia’s finance, technology and business sectors. We want to ensure that we are doing everything we can to support all Australians with the skills to succeed for work, learning and life, and we must factor AI into our mission,” he concluded.