artificial intelligence

40% of global workforce need to be reskilled in next 3 years due to AI, IBM study finds

Gelo Gonzales

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40% of global workforce need to be reskilled in next 3 years due to AI, IBM study finds


STEM skills have also decreased in importance, according to IBM's survey of 3,000 executives, as AI allows for 'no-code software development platforms'

MANILA, Philippines – A new study by computing giant IBM found that about 40% of the global workforce or about 1.4 billion of the total 3.4 billion work-capable individuals will have to be reskilled in the next three years. 

40% of global workforce need to be reskilled in next 3 years due to AI, IBM study finds

The figures came from a joint survey between the IBM Institute for Business Value and Oxford Economics of about 3,000 global C-suite executives across 20 industries and 28 countries from all major regions in December 2022 and January 2023.

A huge majority of the executives surveyed, 87%, agreed reskilling will be necessary as job roles will be augmented rather than outright replaced by AI. Entry-level jobs in 2025 will experience the heaviest impact as well. 

The study said that what many organizations are struggling with now is identifying which skills already exist within their teams and what doesn’t. “Capturing and identifying skills” across the organization is the first step, in order to later decide what areas to fill with new talent, and which areas might be better suited for internal mobility than newly hiring. 

IBM said organizations that succeed at reskilling their workers, with an emphasis on AI, report a higher growth rate of 36% than the average. 

‘AI won’t replace people – but people who use AI will replace people who don’t’

IBM also cited much earlier figures from the World Economic Forum, estimating that between 2020 and 2025, 85 million jobs globally would have been disrupted, while creating 97 million new job roles. This new era, IBM said, is “the age of the augmented workforce—an era when human-machine partnerships boost productivity and deliver exponential business value.”

WEF predictions for the years 2023 to 2028 are in line with IBM’s own findings. The WEF said that about 44% or workers’ skills will be disrupted in those years.

What skills are more important? IBM found that “intriguingly,” the need for STEM skills have dropped significantly, with STEM proficiency falling from being the most important in 2016 to 12th place in 2023. 

“As technology becomes more user-friendly, employees are also able to do more with less advanced technical skills. No-code software development platforms, for instance, let people without a programming background create business-critical prototypes and apps,” the study explained. 

Basic computer and software application skills, which was the second most important skill in 2016, also dropped to 11th place in 2023. 

People skills have increased greatly in importance, with time management skills and ability to prioritize, ability to work in team environments, and ability to communicate effectively, rising to the top 3 spots. 

The study also said that companies need to consider “impactful work” for their employees, which is ranked by workers as the most important factor for a job after salary, benefits, and job security. Executives have a disconnect with workers in this regard, who ranked impactful work as least important. 

“This disconnect is poised to cause problems as executives rush to automate as many tasks as they can. If leaders don’t plan human-machine partnerships with impactful work in mind, they might miss opportunities that will help people work smarter and more strategically. How employees will use – and benefit from – technology needs to be considered as carefully as the tech investment itself,” IBM said.

The IBM study estimates a larger impact on workers when compared to a March 2023 study by Goldman-Sachs that estimated AI’s impact to extend to 300 million workers worldwide–

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.