April 24, 2024

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What White-Collar Jobs Are Safe From AI—And Which Professions Are Most At Risk?

5 min read
What White-Collar Jobs Are Safe From AI—And Which Professions Are Most At Risk?

The accelerated ascendancy of artificial intelligence has created a booming new tech sector offering plentiful opportunities for growth. Understandably, there are grave concerns about how this fast-emerging technology will impact the job market. Most notably, white-collar workers are fearful that they may be made redundant, as AI poses a threat to their job security.

Like robotics impressed upon the blue-collar labor market, in factories and warehouses, “AI is on a collision course with white-collar, high-paid jobs,” CNBC reported.

“AI is distinguished from past technologies that have come over the last 100-plus years,” said Rakesh Kochhar, a senior researcher at Pew Research Center. “It is reaching up from the factory floors into the office spaces where white-collar, higher-paid workers tend to be.”

Investment bank Goldman Sachs predicted in a 2023 report that the workforce in the United States and Europe would be upended, with 300 million jobs lost or diminished by this fast-growing technology.

In a recent survey conducted by ResumeBuilder, 37% of business leaders revealed they have already begun to replace staff with AI. Nearly half (44%) of the executive respondents stated they anticipate further jobs cuts in 2024 due to AI efficiency.

Several employers have already enacted headcount reductions this year. Additionally, it looks like they plan to reallocate the money saved from downsizing toward investments into AI, machine learning, automation and bringing aboard experienced professionals in this space. The redirection of funds and resources to this fast-emerging technology adds another layer of job risk for white-collar workers.

White-Collar Jobs That Are Less Likely To Be Impacted By AI

Roles that require a significant social or emotional component are less susceptible to automation due to the human element involved, such as therapists, counselors, social workers and teachers. Additionally, high-level white-collar workers that are responsible for making complex business decisions are less likely to be displaced by AI. Customer-facing positions, such as salespeople who need to engage and build relationships with clients, are safe from being made obsolete by this technology.

Management consultants who spend their time negotiating project terms, understanding client needs and providing strategic advice require a high degree of human interaction and problem-solving, have futureproofed careers.

Lawyers spend a good deal of their time arguing their cases in court and negotiating settlements, which require the human touch. Although attorneys may seem completely immune, AI can now review legal documents more efficiently and are less likely to be subject to human error

At first blush, roles that involve a high degree of human creativity may seem above reproach. Unfortunately, for the creative professionals, AI can generate high-quality art, videos and designs, which poses a threat to these jobs.

While some components of human resources can be completed by AI, including employment contracts, offer letters, payroll, benefits and engagement surveys, others cannot. Resolving conflicts and managing employee relations require a high level of interpersonal skills and understanding of human behavior, and will continue to need a human involved with the process.

The Most Vulnerable and Impacted Professions

Roles focused on data analysis, bookkeeping, basic financial reporting and repetitive administrative tasks are highly susceptible to automation.

Jobs involving rote processes, scheduling and basic customer service are increasingly handled by AI. AI-powered writing tools are impacting media and marketing, in addition to drafting legal documents. Customer service inquiries are being supplanted by chatbots and AI-powered assistants.

Slow-Walking Hiring Waiting for the AI Takeover?

Some companies may delay hiring due to economic uncertainty or strategic business transformations. The slow-moving nature of the job market suggests that companies are taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to AI.

Businesses may be dragging their feet to hire people, as they feel that AI could take over many tasks that a white-collar office worker could do.

In an earnings call last month, Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said the company is exhibiting a “slower pace of hiring.” When discussing how Microsoft is able to make margin improvements, CFO Amy Hood told investors the company is “re-pivoting our workforce toward the AI-first work we’re doing, without adding material number of people to the workforce.”

Technology has always been a way to bring down cost relative to the compensation offered to highly paid workers. It seems unlikely that AI will fully replace white-collar jobs in the next few years. Also, AI isn’t a cure-all for everything work related. While it can automate specific tasks, there is still a need for human skills, such as critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence and social interactions.

It is more likely that AI will augment and enhance human capabilities rather than replace them entirely. Workers who adapt and utilize AI tools effectively will have the upper hand.

If You’re Worried, Try Reskilling and Upskilling

How susceptible is your specific role to automation? Are there opportunities available within your industry to transition to a less AI-impacted niche? Do you have transferable skills that you can leverage in different fields?

Research alternative career paths by exploring industries and roles that align with your interests and skills. Connect with people in your target field to gain insights and build your network.

Continuous learning and acquiring new skills will be crucial for navigating the changing job market. Many online platforms offer courses, certifications and training programs to develop new skills.

To maximize your employability, you can choose to go where there is a growing need in the market. Although there is a lot of discussion about how AI will take jobs, the technology will also create new roles. New and emerging roles in the workforce include:

  • AI specialists and developers
  • Data scientists and analysts with domain expertise
  • User experience and human-computer interaction specialists
  • Creative professionals who can collaborate with AI tools.
  • AI Ethics Officer
  • Data privacy specialist
  • AI-assisted healthcare provider
  • AI implementation strategist

Become The Best At What You Do

In addition to bridging any skills gaps, you want to be perceived as the best at what you do. It is mission-critical to stand out among your peers and make yourself irreplaceable. You want to develop a personal brand and carve out a niche that positions you as a leading expert in your space. AI is never going to supersede the expertise and influence held by well respected industry leaders.

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