Microsoft reveals the A.I. skills that will be ‘crucial’ to landing any job in the future

May 10, 2023, 3:25 PM UTC
A woman looks at a laptop with a worried expression
Staff need to start working on their A.I. skills “today,” according to Microsoft.
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Whether it’s the bot that takes your job or a “next-generation copilot,” one thing’s for sure—artificial intelligence is set to change the game.

A.I. is being touted as the biggest technological advancement since the creation of the internet—according to Bill Gates at least—and now companies are racing to figure out what it means for them.

Whether it’s freezing hiring to see if bots can take on the roles or creating jobs to test the technology, market leaders in the sector believe that everyone needs to be getting A.I.-ready “today.”

According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index released on Tuesday, the labor force needs to start working on their A.I. skills immediately or risk being left behind.

The CEO of the tech giant—which has invested $10 billion in market disrupter and ChatGPT creator OpenAI—Satya Nadella, said: “There’s an enormous opportunity for A.I.-powered tools to help alleviate digital debt, build A.I. aptitude, and empower employees.”

The result, he believes, will “remove the drudgery of work and unleash creativity” as every member of staff will have a “copilot” to sift through data, information and communications—allowing staff to focus on bigger-picture and creative tasks.

It’s a more optimistic picture than the outlook being painted by others on how A.I. and large language models will impact employment.

Goldman Sachs predicts that 300 million jobs could be lost or diminished because of the technology, while the “Godfather of A.I.,” Geoffrey Hinton, has warned the technology could replace roles like paralegals and personal assistants.

Hinton, a researcher who has left his job at Google, has issued wider warnings about the dangers of the technology—echoing concerns from the likes of Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak.

Microsoft—whose relaunch of search engine Bing had a bumpy start—has come up with “urgent insights” about the world of work in the age of A.I. having interviewed 31,000 people across markets including the U.S., the U.K., Canada, India, Australia, and more.

Crucial skills

With the nature of work expected to shift as LLMs pick up menial tasks, business leaders were asked which skills would be increasingly critical in the A.I. age.

The most important aptitude, the respondents agreed, is analytical judgment followed closely by the ability to work flexibly.

Following that were skills that were less tangible: emotional intelligence, creative evaluation, and curiosity.

Rounding out the list were more technical abilities such as bias detection and handling and A.I. delegation.

Karin Kimbrough, chief economist at LinkedIn, said: “We’re in the next phase of change with the introduction of generative A.I., and it’s already starting to reshape the labor market. While it’s still early days, this shift will expand opportunities, create new roles, and augment productivity.”

As of March 2023, LinkedIn revealed that the number of job postings in the U.S. mentioning GPT is up 79% year on year, with some promising hefty salaries with no prior experience needed.

However a skills gap is already emerging: Where 82% of business leaders say employees need to upskill to be prepared for the world of A.I., 60% of people said they don’t currently have the right capabilities to get their work done.

Ready for the leap

The data also shows that although there’s some fear that bots will take roles—49% said this was a worry—the vast majority were open to the idea of working with A.I.

Some 70% of the respondents said they would delegate as much work as possible to the technology in order to free up more time to get through their workload.

Three in four people said they would be happy to use artificial intelligence not only for administrative tasks but also for analytical work (79%), and even creative aspects of their role (73%).

“It’s fascinating that people are more excited about A.I. rescuing them from burnout than they are worried about it eliminating their jobs,” organizational psychologist professor Adam Grant told the study.

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