This article was originally published in the Training Industry.

Fifty years ago, a typical business professional did not use a computer at work. Fast forward to today, and computer competency has become a hygiene factor, a given fundamental skill in the workplace. Much like computer literacy, a new evolution of skill sets focusing on artificial intelligence (AI) skills is emerging. The change is similar, but the pace of it is exponential. While we cannot predict exactly how AI will change the skill sets of professionals, we do know with near certainty that the shift is happening. The businesses that will succeed in the coming years will be those that are prepared with the right skills and knowledge.

The buzz around generative AI is not simply a trend or a passing fad. AI is quickly becoming mainstream. OpenAI’s ChatGPT has democratized AI, making it accessible to individuals, irrespective of their age, education or existing skill set. With all eyes on this technology, many businesses are considering how they can use it to benefit, transform or disrupt their business models.

AI will be a game-changer for countless industries, potentially contributing up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, according to a PwC study. One of the main attractions of this technology is its ability to increase efficiency and productivity, with PwC estimating that $6.6 trillion is likely to come from productivity gains alone. We’ve already seen how ChatGPT has started this process, as generative AI skills have been proven to increase productivity in businesses by up to 37% while using software-based AI.

What Does it Mean to be AI-Ready?

The discipline of AI has been around since 1956, but its progress has been sporadic. While big tech has embraced it over the decades, extensive and industry-wide adoption and innovation is relatively recent. The burning question is whether it will replace or assist jobs. While there is much optimism around AI, there is also a degree of wariness, given that the extent of AI transformation is unknown.
The debate also differs from one industry to another. For instance, retail, health care, automotive and finance stand to gain the most: AI can predict customer demand, personalize designs and aid diagnoses. Modern generative AI and other technologies also have the capability to ease tasks that currently occupy 60 to 70% of employees’ working hours.
As these new capabilities develop, a new set of personnel will be required to build, maintain, operate and regulate them — creating a whole new workforce. New positions will also be required, many of which wouldn’t have existed without AI. Much like previous generations before us, the job roles of tomorrow are still unknown.
One way or the other, job roles will inevitably be disrupted. Sectors that rely heavily on repetition or rule-based tasks such as data entry, customer service and preliminary research are at risk of job replacement by AI. Roles such as marketing and content generation are seeing a transformation — a new way of doing things thanks to AI. The adoption is relatively new, and on a daily basis, we are seeing new use cases for AI creating new job roles and potentially new industries. The accelerated pace of change is altering the fundamental nature of how we live and work, and this change means that almost continually upskilling will be critical.

“AI can allow individuals to focus on higher-value strategic thinking.”

What Skills are Needed?

Across all levels, and much like computer literacy, basic AI knowledge, and knowledge of common AI tools will become essential. For employees at all levels, the key lies in adapting and leveraging AI tools within their roles. Whether optimizing tasks to support sales, generating marketing copy or identifying upselling opportunities, AI can allow individuals to focus on higher-value strategic thinking. This necessitates developing data literacy, learning basic coding languages and enhancing collaboration skills — all crucial for navigating the evolving AI landscape.

Regardless of age or the organizational level, AI will influence roles. With the right upskilling, it can also help to shape and redefine career paths. Consider the follow roles as an example:

  • Chief experience officers (CXOs) can begin by understanding the value of AI in the business. AI can offer transformative opportunities for an organization or offer a chance to reimagine how things can be done. A CXO can increase the productivity of its workforce or use the technology to help inform financial decisions. They can do this by:
    - Understanding and utilizing AI-driven insights to predict and respond to learner needs.
    - Learning about the ethical and responsible use of AI, including the concerns about bias, transparency and privacy.
    - Staying up to date: The field of AI is constantly evolving, so CXOs will need to continuously work to stay abreast of new advances.
  • Management and professionals need to know how to adapt and use AI tools within their roles. AI can be used to optimize tasks, whether that’s to support a sales pitch draft, create marketing copy or identify upselling opportunities, allowing the team to be freed up for higher value, intellectual and strategic activities. They can do this by:
    - Improving their data literacy skills. Understanding the specifics of how AI works to collect, analyze and interpret data will prove essential to individual contributors and managers, not just informing how they apply the technology but how they interpret the results they generate.
    - Learning basic coding languages like Python or R will help employees contribute directly to the automation process, as well as enabling them to better understand and correct the output they’re getting from AI.
  • Developing collaboration skills. As AI continues to be integrated with more and more platforms, some employees may benefit from high-level training on how best to work with AI. After all, AI is more applicable for some tasks than others, but this distinction is not always clear if you’re new to the subject.


What Role Does AI Play in Upskilling?

AI is not only changing how we work but also how we learn. Like many other industries, the L&D sector is expected to be disrupted by the emergence of AI, with innovative features that will revolutionize how, where and what we learn. Some of the most important ways in which AI can enable upskilling and improve the learning experience include:
Analyzing user behaviors and preferences: AI can be used to automate the process of gathering data from various sources, including web-based platforms, mobile apps, online surveys and more. AI can then clean, organize and aggregate this data into a unified format, greatly reducing the time and effort it takes for learning leaders to analyze learner data.
- Creating interactive simulations and learning experiences: AI can help your training design transcend linear learning paths by generating branching narratives that adapt to individual choices and actions. AI can also help create 3D environments that mimic real-world scenarios, allowing learners to explore complex machinery from the inside, practice high-stakes processes in a low-stakes environment and more.
- Language translation and localization: AI has brought a level of contextual awareness to text translation that was sorely lacking in tools like Google Translate. AI can enable you to translate learning content in real time, helping to make training events accessible to all attendees, regardless of language or culture.
- Personalizing learning content: Training managers can use AI to generate tailored learning paths that take individual learners’ skills, preferences and backgrounds into account. AI tools can also automatically adjust the difficulty level and pace of learning content based on the individual learner’s progress and understanding, ensuring that learners are challenged at an appropriate level to maintain engagement.

In a time when self-paced learning is critical to continuous learning and professional development, individuals can utilize tools like ChatGPT and avatars as private tutors to enhance their learning experience. The roles of trainers and educators may lean more toward mentors or guides, while the future of examinations and qualifications will also take a more personalized path, away from standardized testing to individuals learning what they want and however they want.

AI is rapidly changing our world. To remain at the forefront of this revolution, upskilling is not an option: It’s a necessity. The choice of how to upskill is deeply personal and tailored to unique learning preferences, industry demands, current roles and future aspirations. Adapting to this change doesn’t have to be a burden — it’s a new way of life and an opportunity to thrive in an AI-driven era. Accepting this reality today isn’t just about survival, it’s about seizing AI’s endless opportunities. The future belongs to those who adapt, learn and grow alongside AI, shaping a promising tomorrow through continuous upskilling.

“Upskilling is not an option: It’s a necessity.”


Connect with our team

Join our events
Events landing
Client case studies
to be replaced?
Press releases
Press releases
Videos and podcasts
video and podcast

We are a community of solvers combining human ingenuity, experience and technology innovation to deliver sustained outcomes and build trust.

It all adds up to The New Equation.

See how The New Equation can solve for you