Tech giants launch consortium to look at AI’s impact on ICT jobs

A number of big tech players have announced The AI-Enabled ICT Workforce Consortium, which is supposed to be about ‘upskilling and reskilling’ those with roles in tech most likely to be impacted by AI.

Andrew Wooden

April 5, 2024

3 Min Read

Cisco, Accenture, Eightfold, Google, IBM, Indeed, Intel, Microsoft and SAP are the named big tech firms behind the project, and it will also be advised by bodies such as American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, CHAIN5, Communications Workers of America, DIGITALEUROPE, the European Vocational Training Association, Khan Academy, and SMEUnited.

These organisations are putting their heads together in the pursuit of ‘evaluating how AI is changing the jobs and skills workers need to be successful.’

The idea is that corralling some of the biggest firms currently working in AI, who as such have obviously had things to say about its trajectory individually, together into one big brainstorming unit will enable them to ‘coalesce insights, recommend action plans, and activate findings within their respective broad spheres of influence.’

The AI-Enabled ICT Workforce Consortium will address a ‘growing need for a proficient workforce that is trained in various aspects of AI’, and the first phase will culminate in a report with ‘actionable insights for business leaders and workers’ that seek ways to reskill and upskill workers in preparation for ‘AI-enabled environments.’

“AI is accelerating the pace of change for the global workforce, presenting a powerful opportunity for the private sector to help upskill and reskill workers for the future,” said Francine Katsoudas, Executive Vice President and Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer, Cisco. “The mission of our newly unveiled AI-Enabled Workforce Consortium is to provide organizations with knowledge about the impact of AI on the workforce and equip workers with relevant skills. We look forward to engaging other stakeholders—including governments, NGOs, and the academic community—as we take this important first step toward ensuring that the AI revolution leaves no one behind.”

Lisa Gevelber, Founder, Grow with Google added: “Google believes the opportunities created by technology should truly be available to everyone. We’re proud to join the AI-Enabled Workforce Consortium, which will advance our work to make AI skills training universally accessible. We’re committed to collaborating across sectors to ensure workers of all backgrounds can use AI effectively and develop the skills needed to prepare for future-focused jobs, qualify for new opportunities, and thrive in the economy.”

The Consortium will evaluate the impact of AI on 56 ICT job roles and provide training recommendations, we’re told. It will focus on job roles that include 80% of the top 45 ICT job titles garnering the highest volume of job postings for the period February 2023-2024 in the United States and five of the largest European countries (namely France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands) by ICT workforce numbers according to Indeed Hiring Lab.

“Consortium members universally recognize the urgency and importance of their combined efforts with the acceleration of AI in all facets of business and the need to build an inclusive workforce with family-sustaining opportunities,” reads the release. ‘Family-sustaining opportunities’ presumably means jobs.  

The release points out that the consortium’s members represent a cross section of companies ‘innovating on the cutting edge of AI that also understand the current and impending impact of AI on the workforce.’ The first part is certainly true – Google and Microsoft alone account for much of the recent action in generative AI. However the latter part presumably less obvious even to them, hence the stated need to collaborate and work out where it’s all heading.

Focussing on what jobs may be created by AI in the coming years and how to train existing tech-minded people up for them is one side of the coin – the other disrupting factor on the workforce will be the jobs that may be rendered irrelevant by AI in all sorts of sectors, thus harming a human’s chances of paying bills by having one.

Canned quotes about leaving ‘no one behind’ aside, the actual focus of this group’s research seems to be on ICT job roles, hence the name of it. This is fine, but we can hope its members are also having a good think about the wider picture as well as they continue to hurl ever more sophisticated AI into the world. Right now, it’s hard to imagine the entire global workforce can be meaningfully employed in AI jobs.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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