AI skills can help you land a job or promotion faster—especially for Gen Z, says new research


 Artificial intelligence (AI) may replace some jobs, but it can also provide a significant competitive edge in the workplace. According to a March 2024 Slack Workforce Lab survey of over 10,000 professionals, about 96% of executives feel an urgency to incorporate AI into their business operations. However, opinions on AI adoption vary; some reports show that professionals are excited about and experimenting with AI, while others suggest that many adults have not tried using AI tools at work or do not trust them.

Regardless of personal views on AI, failing to learn it may result in missed career opportunities, as new research from Microsoft and LinkedIn indicates. AI skills could soon rival job experience in hiring decisions. Nearly 70% of leaders prefer hiring candidates with AI skills over those with more experience but no such skills. Aneesh Raman, LinkedIn’s vice president and workforce expert, advises that learning basic AI skills like prompt engineering, machine learning, or data literacy is the best way to stay competitive against more experienced individuals.

Some companies, such as Google and Amazon, are investing in AI skills training for their workforce, but this is not yet commonplace. Only 25% of companies plan to offer training on generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot. Numerous free online courses are available from IBM, Google, and Ivy League schools like Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania for those wishing to learn AI skills.

The excitement around AI is just beginning, according to Colette Stallbaumer, general manager of Microsoft Copilot. Microsoft has announced a $3.3 billion investment over the next four years to expand its cloud and AI infrastructure. Stallbaumer notes that generative AI is becoming integral across various industries, especially as the pressure and volume of work persist post-COVID-19. Many employees are turning to AI for assistance.

Generative AI tools have seen significant adoption recently, with usage doubling in the last six months according to Microsoft and LinkedIn. These tools are being used by a diverse array of professionals, including architects, project managers, and administrative assistants. Non-tech industries like healthcare, finance, and marketing are rapidly adopting AI technologies to streamline operations and enhance productivity, increasing demand and job opportunities for AI-skilled professionals.

Gen Z, as digital natives, could use AI to advance their careers more quickly than their millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer counterparts. Microsoft and LinkedIn data suggest that 77% of leaders believe early-career employees with AI skills will be given greater responsibilities. Raman adds that AI can assist young professionals by providing access to tailored career advice, market research, and other data-driven insights.

Lydia Logan, IBM's vice president of global education and workforce development, predicts that AI integration will significantly alter entry-level job responsibilities. She recalls the menial tasks of her first job, such as answering phones and organizing files, noting that many of these administrative tasks can now be automated by AI. This, in turn, allows entry-level workers to take on responsibilities typically reserved for more senior positions.  

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