In its annual employment outlook, the intergovernmental Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) assessed the potential for job losses as a result of increasing AI implementation.
The 38 member states of the OECD include many of the most developed countries of North America and Western Europe along with some South American nations and APAC representatives from Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. AI implementation in some of these countries is as advanced as anywhere in the world. While the OECD report focused on unemployment and real wages in these countries (both down in the past year), a significant portion of this year’s report addressed how employers and employees feel about AI-driven automation.
“It is vital to gather new and better data on AI uptake and use in the workplace, including which jobs will change, be created or disappear, and how skills needs are shifting,” the OECD said.
According to the report, including AI and other automation technologies, 27 percent of jobs could be automated out of existence. Employers are responding, though, by reskilling their existing workforce. Respondents to an OECD survey found 64 percent of organizations in the finance sector and 71 percent of manufacturers have begun retraining internal workers because AI is changing their staffing needs. When asked about how AI is affecting their work lives, many employees responded favorably, the report says, although they are apprehensive about the future.
“The findings show that AI use at work can lead to positive outcomes for workers around job satisfaction, health and wages,” the report’s authors wrote. “Yet there are also risks around privacy, work intensity and bias. The survey revealed a clear divide between what workers think about AI use in their jobs today and their fears for the future. The results highlight the urgent need for policy action now, to ensure that no one is left behind.”
In both finance and manufacturing, around 80 percent of employees indicated that AI had improved their own performance, and more than half said it had improved their mental health. At the same time, however, 57 percent of manufacturing employees and 63 percent of finance workers worry that they will lose their job in the next 10 years due to AI-led automation.
The OECD concluded that it will be important for government policy to provide guardrails for the ethical and trustworthy use of AI and to make sure retraining and upskilling accelerates alongside the rapid development and adoption of AI.