Jobs and the Future of Work

AI skills are becoming more important than job experience. Here’s how job seekers can adapt

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AI skills are becoming increasingly important for jobs. Image: Unsplash/Nicole Wolf

Andrea Willige
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • AI skills could soon rival experience when employers select job candidates.
  • Research from Microsoft, LinkedIn and PwC underlines how quickly AI is changing profiles and suggests how job seekers need to adapt to succeed.
  • The World Economic Forum’s Good Work Alliance and Education 4.0 framework focus on deploying AI effectively and responsibly and ensuring that education systems provide the next generation of workers with AI skills training.

AI aptitude could soon rival experience when choosing between job candidates. This is according to a new international study by Microsoft and LinkedIn on labour and recruitment trends due to the rise of generative AI. The research also predicts the rise of AI super users as the labour market – which has already undergone significant change in recent years – will shift again.

The 2024 Work Trend Index Annual Report draws on a survey of 31,000 people across 31 countries, hiring trends from LinkedIn, Microsoft 365 productivity data and research with Fortune 500 companies.

Three Out of Four People Use AI at Work
AI is becoming the rule rather than the exception in the workplace. Image: Microsoft, LinkedIn

Generative AI could give job candidates an edge

The research reveals that three-quarters of people surveyed use generative AI at work, with the majority (78%) bringing their own AI tools into the workplace, especially in small and medium-sized businesses.

AI emerges as a tool to help people deal with an increased pace and volume of work that more than two-thirds of respondents struggle with (68%), helping them offload menial tasks.

However, many of those drawing on AI at work fear that doing so might make them look replaceable (53%) and worry that AI could replace their jobs (45%).

But it looks like the opposite could be the case.

The New Hiring Imperative
AI skills could make or break a job candidate’s chances to clinch a role. Image: Microsoft, LinkedIn

Over the past eight years, hiring for technical AI roles was up 323%, and businesses are now turning to non-technical talent with the skills to apply generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Copilot.

Two-thirds of business leaders surveyed say they wouldn’t hire a candidate without AI skills. Nearly three-quarters said they would rather hire a less experienced candidate with AI skills than a more experienced candidate without them.

Growth in Al jobs has outpaced all jobs since at least 2016
AI jobs have been growing rapidly since the early 2010s. Image: PwC

AI specialist skills command a premium

This trend is consistent with PwC’s 2024 AI Jobs Barometer, which found that jobs requiring AI specialist skills are growing 3.5 times faster than all jobs combined. The exponential need for AI-qualified staff has been on an upward trajectory since 2016 – well before the advent of ChatGPT and other generative AI models.

Moreover, PwC’s analysis of half a billion job ads from 15 countries shows that, on average, AI specialist jobs command up to a 25% premium in pay. While technologists see some of the highest wage premiums, AI skills also pay dividends for professionals such as lawyers, sales and marketing managers, and accountants.

This further underlines that AI skills are needed across roles and industries. The top three occupations that have added AI to their skills and aptitudes on LinkedIn are creatives: content writers, graphic designers and marketing managers. Following hot on their heels are entrepreneurs and business professionals, along with the web and software developers you might more naturally expect to find on the list.

Wage premium for job vacancies which require Al skills by country
Roles requiring AI skills will command a wage premium. Image: PwC

The rise of the AI super user

Workers clearly understand the role of AI for advancing their career prospects.

More than three-quarters of people surveyed for Microsoft and LinkedIn’s 2024 Work Trend Index felt that AI skills will be necessary for staying competitive in the job market. They also view AI knowledge as a way to get promoted faster (69%) and broaden their job opportunities (79%).

And people are acting on it: attendance of LinkedIn Learning courses on AI for non-technical professionals has increased 160% in the past six months.

Have you read?

The research predicts that AI upskilling – whether through formal learning or simply by using AI tools in the workplace – may lead to the rise of ‘AI power users’.

Power users are those who are ahead of the curve in terms of their AI use. They use it several times a week at work, benefitting from making their workload more manageable, boosting their creativity or helping them focus on the most important work. It also makes them feel more motivated and enjoy work more.

AI Aptitude Heats Up Across Roles and Industries
Workers are upskilling to add AI to their repertoire as employers make AI skills a recruitment priority across sectors and roles. Image: Microsoft, LinkedIn

How to become an AI power user?

If the research findings are anything to go by, then becoming an AI power user is the way to go to further career progression. So, what are the habits that mark out a power user? According to the 2024 Work Trend Index, it’s some of the following:

  • Experiment with different ways of using AI: power users are more than two-thirds more likely than other survey respondents to do so.
  • Always ask yourself, “How can AI help?”: power users are nearly 50% more likely to pause to explore what AI could contribute before tackling a new task, to keep trying if they don’t get the perfect response the first time (+30%), for example, by researching new prompts (+56%).
  • ‘Bookend’ your working day with AI: 9 in 10 power users use AI tools to start their day and get set up for the next day.
  • Redesign your ways of working with AI and save time: power users are much more likely than other respondents to use AI for a wide range of tasks, including catching up on meetings, analyzing information, designing visual content, brainstorming ideas and even interacting with customers.
  • Redesign business processes with AI: power users don’t just stop at reorganizing their own ways of working; they are also 66% more likely to redesign entire business processes and workflows in the organization using AI tools.
The Power User Payoff of AI at Work
AI power users are emerging. Image: Microsoft, LinkedIn

Getting business and education ready for the AI future

With PwC finding that skillsets for what it terms ‘AI-exposed occupations’ are changing 25% faster than in roles where AI is less relevant, adopting some, if not all, of these habits could dramatically improve people’s future career development.

However, the findings also mean that organizations and educational systems must do major work to prepare the current workforce and future generations for an AI-driven world of work.

As part of its mission to build more resilient, productive, equitable and human-centric workplaces, the World Economic Forum’s Good Work Alliance focuses on deploying AI effectively and responsibly. The Education 4.0 framework aims to ensure education and training systems teach AI skills and leverage AI for better learning.

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