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AI could boost headcount and skills, recruiter predicts

AI could boost headcount and skills, recruiter predicts

Artificial intelligence will have a positive impact on recruitment and skills over the next two years, according to a survey of UK employers – suggesting fears around the onslaught of tools such as ChatGPT could be unfounded.

According to the survey by Experis, an IT recruitment business owned by Manpower Group, 54% of employers believe AI technologies will have a positive impact on staff headcount.

More than two-thirds of respondents (67%) said AI tools would have a positive impact on engagement, and 60% thought it would be beneficial when onboarding employees.

The survey findings contradict recent reports that suggest AI could diminish workers’ rights, despite creating new jobs in some areas.

A recent report by Allianz Trade, for example, argued that AI could reduce wage bargaining power, and would disrupt traditional relationships between employers and workers.

Another piece of research from Goldman Sachs suggested that generative AI (including ChatGPT) could replace 300 million jobs.

The survey agrees that recruiting the right teams to support the rise of AI technologies in the workplace may be a struggle, however. IT employers in the UK anticipate a Net Employment Outlook of 43% for the third quarter of this year, 4 percentage points higher than the global figure.

Eight in 10 employers in the tech sector said they have difficulty filling open roles.

“These findings suggest the mood amongst employers is largely at odds with wider concerns for AI having a negative impact on future jobs,” said Rahul Kumar, director at Experis.

“It seems many businesses are in fact feeling optimistic about AI and its potential to be used for effective recruitment and retention.

This doesn’t mean we should dismiss concerns around the possible negative impacts of AI on employment but there is clearly a strong sentiment amongst employers that these technologies can help overall.”

The fact employers are keen to attract and build skills in this area shows optimism, he added, with high numbers of redundancies in tech firms showing an “overcorrection” after hiring picked up in the wake of the pandemic.

“This optimism is to be welcomed as it could help to drive an AI-supported upskilling and recruitment revolution,” he said.

He added: “Many of the recent announcements concerning mass layoffs are longer-term and will not necessarily have an immediate impact. But we would encourage those organisations affected to try not to lose this workforce and the wealth of institutional knowledge, by supporting employees in upskilling and reskilling to fill the growing talent gap.”

Despite a backlash against use of the metaverse, the Experis survey found that 65% thought it would have a positive impact on the world of work by connecting people.

Only 24% of respondents said they were ‘very familiar’ with the concept of the metaverse, where multiple virtual reality and communications tools come together to build a more immersive user experience. Sixty-three percent had no experience of using it in a professional context.

“With emerging technologies, companies are balancing immediate needs with the pressure to also invest in future proofing. Rather than fearing or dismissing AI and emerging technologies though, we’re finding employers are really interested in understanding more about these technologies and the potential uses,” Kumar added.

Harnessing AI to remove repetitive aspects of employees’ roles would free them up to do more complex and fulfilling work, he said, ultimately driving job creation rather than hindering labour market growth.

More than three-quarters (76%) would be comfortable with AI being used in the hiring process, but 46% would like a human employee to review their application.

According to the survey, investing in automation and training their existing workforce were joint top priorities, cited by 53% of employers looking to address technology challenges. These are closely followed by hiring new workers with the required skills (50%), reskilling workers to move into IT roles (50%), and hiring freelancers or contract workers to fill skills gaps (47%).

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