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AI skills could help professionals seize more job opportunities, accelerate Gen Z careers: Microsoft-LinkedIn report

AI skills could help professionals seize more job opportunities, accelerate Gen Z careers: Microsoft-LinkedIn report
The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has ignited a mix of fascination and anxiety worldwide. The amazement is often centred on AI's transformative potential, while the apprehension tends to focus on the spectre of AI usurping human jobs.

Although AI taking over jobs still seems like a far-off prospect, the real and present danger is humans leveraging AI against each other in the job market. Now, fresh insights from Microsoft and LinkedIn have confirmed this, revealing that individuals who don’t acquire AI skills risk losing career opportunities to those who do.

This research, which surveyed over 30,000 individuals across 31 countries, highlights a striking trend: nearly 70% of leaders now prioritise AI proficiency over experience in hiring decisions. Essentially, they are more inclined to choose a candidate with AI knowledge over a seasoned professional lacking such skills.

“Learning basic AI skills — such as prompt engineering, machine learning or data literacy — is the best insurance to shortcut your competitiveness against people who might have more experience,” Aneesh Raman, a vice president and workforce expert at LinkedIn, told CNBC Make It.
Gen Z's AI advantage: Outpacing experience with cutting-edge skills
With the growing emphasis on AI skills in hiring, younger candidates with AI acumen are likely to have a competitive edge over their more seasoned counterparts, potentially fast-tracking their rise within organisations.

Gen Z, the digital native generation, is more prone to incorporating these AI tools at work compared to millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers.

Moreover, 77% of leaders are inclined to grant early-career professionals with AI expertise more significant responsibilities at work, the findings from Microsoft and LinkedIn reveal.

In fact, Lydia Logan, IBM’s Vice President of Global Education and Workforce Development, predicts that the swift adoption of AI in the workplace will notably transform entry-level job duties.

Raman notes that AI can also propel young professionals’ careers by offering rapid access to personalised career guidance, market analysis and other data-driven insights, boosting their confidence and proficiency in their roles.
Hype around AI only just starting to build
Colette Stallbaumer, general manager of Microsoft Copilot and co-founder of Microsoft WorkLab, has insisted that the hype around AI is far from reaching its peak. In fact, it is only just starting to gain momentum.

The report by Microsoft and LinkedIn adds that the adoption of generative AI tools has surged in workplaces, doubling over the past six months. This trend isn't limited to programmers and engineers; professionals across various fields such as architecture, project management and administration are increasingly seeking to build their AI aptitude as well.

Even industries traditionally outside of tech, such as healthcare, finance and marketing, are swiftly integrating AI technologies to streamline operations and bolster productivity. This rapid adoption is creating a surge in demand for professionals proficient in AI tools, opening up new job opportunities.

Stallbaumer notes: “Less than two years after generative AI burst onto the scene, we’re seeing this technology being woven into the fabric of work across a wide range of industries. This is happening at a pivotal time where the pressure, volume and pace of work from the COVID-19 pandemic has hardly let up. Employees are overwhelmed and turning to AI for help.”

Some tech giants like Google and Amazon are also investing in training their workforce in AI skills, although this proactive approach remains an exception rather than the norm. Only a quarter of companies surveyed by Microsoft and LinkedIn have plans to provide training on generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot.

As more professionals embrace AI tools to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in their roles, the journey towards integrating AI into everyday work practices appears to be accelerating. This promises a transformation—one that will bring fresh opportunities as well as renewed challenges.