Artificial Intelligence (AI) has so far had a limited impact on employment, but this technological innovation is believed to have the potential to make a lot of jobs obsolete. The workforce in a number of industries are increasingly concerned about their future, a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed.
The OECD, the think tank of leading industrialized nations, polled around 2,000 employers and 5,300 employees in seven countries.
The findings indicate that companies that embraced AI at an early stage are hesitant to dismiss employees. The impression is that AI tools such as chatbot ChatGPT are utilized by employees to deal primarily with tedious tasks.
However, the OECD emphasizes that developments in AI technologies are still in an early phase. The world is said to be on the verge of an “AI revolution.” According to the organization, there is a relatively high risk that 27 percent of jobs could be replaced by computers in the near future.
Jobs currently performed by lower-skilled workers are particularly vulnerable to the AI onslaught, especially in industries such as construction, agriculture, and, to a lesser extent, manufacturing and transportation.
The study also found that three out of five employees are concerned that they may lose their jobs within the next ten years due to the rise of AI. A similar number of respondents worry that wages in their sector may decline as a result of AI taking over some of their functions. Three out of four employees say that the use of AI has already accelerated the pace of work, and more than half express concerns about privacy.
Employers need to invest more in education and training
According to the OECD, the rapid development of AI underscores the need for adaptation strategies and developing new skills while some of the old ones become obsolete. The organization, therefore, urges governments to encourage employers to invest more in education and training.
Furthermore, the OECD states that there is an urgent need for policies to address the risks that AI can pose in the workplace.
Several business entities have already called for better regulations concerning AI. Efforts are currently underway in Brussels, for example, to address the issue.
What about the aging population?
While regulating the implementation of AI technologies is essential, the EU is facing another set of challenges, this time related to its demographic trends. The only long-term issue caused “the greying of Europe” that has been addressed in the last few decades of trying has been pension reform.
Dutch businesses argue, however, that skilled workforce from outside the EU is indispensable to the health of its economy. Employer organizations, such as VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland, have long advocated for hiring skilled workers from outside the EU to address the significant labor shortages in the market. Their call raises hackles in some corners, although companies like ASML and Adyen have been recruiting highly educated personnel from abroad for years. But hiring a foreign mechanic or nurse is proving to be a bit more complicated.
According to recent data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, by the end of 2021, there were 87,000 labor migrants in the Netherlands from countries outside the EU or affiliated with the EU (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein). This group primarily consisted of men (71%) and was relatively young, with 67% under the age of 40. Just over half of these labor migrants came from Asia. Nearly half (46%) of the labor migrants were knowledge migrants, highly skilled workers recruited by Dutch employers.
The majority of these labor migrants worked in the service sector, with the business services sector employing the most (24%), followed by the information and communication sector (23%) and the trade, transport, and hospitality sector (21%). Municipalities with a high number of labor migrants are primarily cities with universities nearby, such as Amstelveen, Eindhoven, and Amsterdam. Enschede and Groningen also feature in this list, offering substantial employment opportunities for highly educated individuals.
Perhaps, the next challenge for the EU is to figure out how AI can help ease the pressure that the aging population is beginning to put on the healthcare system, finances and economy of the continent.