Times are a-changing, and as the world enters a new era of technological advancement, employers are having to rethink the future of their organisations from inside out. Automation has led to the steady loss of certain roles for some time – speeding up processes and easing pressure on resources across the board – and during the Covid years accelerated to cater to the needs of a global workforce in crisis.
AI has been seen as cutting-edge technology that can revolutionise how we live and work – in other words, science fiction made real, with no end of entrepreneurs pioneering ways to improve traditional processes, alongside the tech giants.
And yet it seems this new era is not as appealing to the captains of industry as one might expect. The AI-related labour market in England appears to be slowing, with around 50 per cent fewer job openings advertised than there were two years ago, according to Bloomberg UK and Reed Jobs Report data.
Analysis of job descriptions featuring keywords such as ‘AI engineer’ and ‘deep learning’ shows that “in England, the number of AI job postings in the three months to September slipped by almost 40% from a year ago”, along with a marked decrease in advertised AI roles in contrast to the rest of the labour market.
AI safety on the agenda
Despite the excitement generated by the media about AI developments and the government’s enthusiasm for becoming a global leader in AI governance, business leaders are clearly not getting carried away. This caution may well be in response to the well-publicised AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park on 1-2 November 2023, which will see international leaders gather to discuss how the risks of AI can be mitigated through collaboration – the outcome of which may be many weeks or months away. Or it may be due to businesses wisely taking time to consider how to employ AI harmoniously alongside their workforce.
Of the research findings, James Reed, Chairman and CEO of Reed, said: “Employers may be exhibiting a healthy degree of caution about how best to maximise the benefits of this new technology.
“Rather than rapidly creating new ‘AI jobs,’ it’s more likely that AI skills will gradually become an integral part of existing job roles, enhancing people’s capabilities and productivity rather than outright replacing jobs.”
While employers may be stalling on AI recruitment for now, the progressive outlook of university cities and developing tech hubs will ensure fast growth when the tide turns. Across the UK, jobseekers are showing growing interest in the field, with applications in June and July 2023 almost double that of last summer – and as the big tech companies race to release the next best thing, the demand-outstripping-supply jobs trend may be short-lived. Tech is a way of life for younger generations, and schools and colleges are equipping students with the necessary skills and knowledge for tech-dominated careers.
In September’s Bloomberg UK and Reed Jobs Report, Cambridge ranked highest in terms of overall job creation. New data also shows the university city takes the lead in terms of AI jobs: since 2018 a total 319 AI job adverts have been posted, sailing ahead of rival Oxford, second highest at 187 postings, and London’s 25.
James Reed said: “The prominence of AI job growth in university cities like Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester and Bristol is indicative that AI remains an exploratory and quickly evolving field, with strong foundations forming around innovation, science, and technology hubs before expanding its influence across the broader economy.”
Whatever the outcome of the AI Safety Summit, the technology is here to stay and needs a workforce ready to harness and run with it.
Read the full report here.