Worried about AI? Really, it’s nice work if you can get it

I believe it will ultimately change the way our community does business for the better. Here's why...


When i talk about how AI will change employment and business for members of our community, the initial response is often one of fear. People are concerned about jobs being lost to technology — or becoming so automated they lose all meaning.

In PwC’s most recent annual global workforce survey, a third of respondents reported being worried about their role being replaced by technology within just three years.

We have heard similar fears from our clients at Work Avenue, who we are helping into jobs or to change careers. Among the entrepreneurs and small business owners we support, some are excited about introducing AI. Others have expressed unease that they may not have the budgets or technical know-how to keep up.

The fear is the creation of a two-tier system where some businesses are able to use the proliferation of available AI tools to help them become more efficient while others fall behind as they lack the confidence to apply them.

In fact, this change is already happening, with a lot of companies already integrating AI into their products, from contact center software to healthcare providers who use computer-aided diagnosis when treating patients.

But I believe AI will ultimately change the way our community does business for the better.
Our Work Avenue team focuses on key areas. The first is how AI, in the words of Wired magazine, “frees us from the tyranny of repetitive tasks” by automating mundane things.

Following on from this are the opportunities AI brings for up-skilling and re-skilling. Through our workshops, one-to-one advice, Richard Mintz Bursary Fund for vocational training and Wage social enterprise, we aim to ensure the community has the skills needed for today’s workplace. Indeed, we hope to offer an AI training programme via Wage.

The challenges brought up by AI aren’t new and its rise will help to focus minds and lead to a new range of courses and ideas so employees and businesses owners can adapt to the changing work environment and take advantage of the resultant opportunities that are coming.

When asking ChatGPT — the automated chatbot currently making the headlines — about what AI would mean for the nature of work, it concluded: “While there are opportunities for increased efficiency and productivity, there are also concerns about job displacement and the need for ongoing skill development.

To navigate these changes successfully, organisations and employees will need to embrace a mindset of lifelong learning, adaptability and collaboration with AI systems.”

An advantage of AI is how it allows entrepreneurs and those with small businesses to be able to do more. I spoke to two Work Avenue clients — Caroline Ratner (Caroline Ratner Communications) and Jon Bambiji (JBI Training) — who have begun using the technology.

They found it has revolutionised what they are able to achieve. Caroline told me: “ChatGPT has become my assistant. It has changed the way I work.”

For those seeking work, or looking to move jobs, there is also the benefit of the new roles that will arise.

The World Economic Forum predicts that the technology will create 97 million jobs by 2025.

Think of all the opportunities for engineers, analysts, trainers, prompt generators and those overseeing the legal and ethical aspects.

Additionally, like all advances, it will spur the creation of entirely new industries and markets. Finally, the rise in AI will give a fresh importance to those jobs where human contact is crucial. You can’t have an automated fundraiser, counsellor or teacher, let alone an automated rabbi.

At Work Avenue, we are excited about the opportunities AI can bring but aware of the real worries it is causing.

Over the next few weeks, we are planning to convene a taskforce to look specifically at AI’s possible impact on the world of employment and how we can support the community to both harness AI’s potential and train people adequately to be employees of the future.

Debbie Lebrett is CEO of Work Avenue

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