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AI adoption will drive both hiring and layoffs in 2024, half of tech leaders say

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In a March poll of 255 U.S. business leaders in the tech industry, 50% said they anticipate a combination of both layoffs and hiring during the next six months as a direct result of AI adoption, according to an April 29 report from Ernst & Young.

At the same time, 61% of leaders said emerging technology has made it more challenging to find top tech talent.

“One thing is certain: Companies are reshaping their workforce to be more AI savvy. With this transition, we can anticipate a continuous cycle of strategic workforce realignment, characterized by simultaneous layoffs and hiring, and not necessarily in equal volumes,” Vamsi Duvvuri, EY’s technology, media and telecommunications AI leader, said in a statement.

“But it’s not all doom and gloom,” he said. “Employees and companies alike continue to show enthusiasm around AI, specifically when it comes to opportunities to scale and compete more effectively in the marketplace.”

In fact, 72% of the poll respondents said their employees are using AI at least daily at work, particularly in coding and software development, data analysis, and internal and external communication. Despite concerns about AI, most leaders said they believe the emerging tech has positively affected their workplace culture.

Even so, leaders noted their specific concerns related to AI, such as upskilling employees, copyright infringement, intellectual property theft and a lack of transparency around decision-making. About half supported the idea of more AI regulation, including a focus on minimizing bias, protecting user privacy and safeguarding intellectual property.

In the next year, 82% of poll respondents said they plan to increase their AI investment. When it comes to hiring, they’re looking for specific roles, such as cybersecurity analysts, data scientists and AI engineers.

However, upskilling current employees is also vital, the leaders said. About two-thirds said their company has instituted internal development programs to help employees keep up with generative AI tools, and 76% said their company has implemented internal tech certifications related to GenAI.

Although a large majority of companies appear to be investing in AI in 2024, half aren’t sure about the business impact or implementation, according to an Orgvue report. Leaders cited barriers to AI adoption such as a lack of organizational expertise, employee skepticism and lagging regulations.

Talent leaders also face uncertainty in 2024 due to AI-related shifts and work design changes, according to a Mercer report. About 40% of HR pros said they have “AI workflows” on their agenda and plan to prioritize ways to redesign work to incorporate AI and automation.

As companies move forward with AI adoption, many leaders have acknowledged that AI is already changing their organizational structure, according to a Pearl Meyer report. Leaders also said they’re developing a change management strategy and implementing communication plans to keep employees informed. 

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