Despite widespread anxieties concerning AI and automation replacing employees, HSBC finds that the majority of businesses still consider humans a significant part of advancing technology.
A recent survey conducted by the financial services company found that 86% of businesses were considering how emerging technologies like AI could advance the skillsets of their employees. Likewise, an additional 83% plan to re-train their workforce to utilise the rapidly developing technology.
The findings are released during a climate of anxiety in the world of AI, as workers fear that digital systems will replace them. Large corporations have already made significant layoffs to advance AI, sparking fears over job security.
Enhancing the digital skills of the workforce
HSBC has seen in its findings that organisations are currently focusing on utilising AI adoption to boost productivity, innovation and economic growth. It states that industry leaders have hailed these developments as positive changes for their workforces.
As enterprise automation continues to develop worldwide, businesses will need to upskill their workforces in order to harness the technology’s full potential. HSBC notes that investing in skills development, in tandem with the human aspects of work, will only continue to benefit an organisation in the long run.
HSBC’s findings come in the wake of other reports finding that there are widespread worries that AI will replace human employees in the workplace. A survey conducted in 2023 found that 61% of workers feared that AI will replace their jobs by 2033, citing that more relevant AI training would contribute to better business success.
Now, HSBC has found that this rings true. If organisations put time and investment into upskilling their employees in AI, their digital transformations will be more successful as a result.
Sridhar Iyengar, MD for Zoho Europe, says: “The findings highlight that human skills are still highly desired in the workplace as businesses harness AI to advance the skillsets of their employees. While it's true that AI can sometimes be portrayed negatively as a jobs threat, businesses can use the technology to empower their teams to perform more efficiently and creatively, when applied in the right way.”
“It's great to see AI being used for upskilling as companies look to invest further in this emerging technology to realise its full capabilities for business. While it's true that AI and automation will replace some jobs, it will also introduce new opportunities and roles. This is the case with any technology evolution.
Combining AI and human skills
There are already notable examples of companies investing in employee training programmes to better benefit from AI. Microsoft emerged as a key example in 2023, after announcing that it had trained 1.1 million people with the necessary skills to advance their careers in today’s AI-enabled economy.
The programme aims to focus on employees being able to develop their AI technical skills, in addition to earning certifications via online self-learn training modules in machine learning and data analysis.
Iyengar continues: “AI must work in tandem with humans to provide true contextual and benefits for business that fit within a company's overall strategy. Business leaders should continue to monitor developments in AI best practices to provide the right education and training to ensure the technology is driving their business forwards.
“Collectively, AI and human inputs can greatly contribute to business success.”
Whilst anxieties over AI replacing jobs remain, what is clear is that a more skilled workforce will be able to better harness AI. It will also enable greater safety of AI systems, as addressed in the AI Safety Summit in the UK at the end of 2023.
The growing skills gap emerged as a critical business concern during the summit, in conjunction with cybersecurity concerns, with many advocating for government-sponsored training programmes to empower workforces with a better understanding of AI. In line with this, the UK government in particular pledged a £118m (US$238m) boost to AI skills funding.
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