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Is AI a Job Killer or Talent Gap Fix?

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More accountants are quitting the industry, partly due to AI’s impact on their work. But there’s more to the story—and it sheds light on how AI might impact every industry moving forward.

Why it matters

"Accountants cite low salaries, mundane tasks, burnout and the threat of new technology like generative AI as reasons for considering other industries," says the Wall Street Journal.

But, accounting is also an industry that faces serious talent shortages, with 300,000 professionals having quit the field from 2019 to 2021.

This creates a paradox where AI may both threaten jobs and address labor shortages.

Connecting the dots

On Episode 65 of the Marketing AI Show, Marketing AI Institute founder/CEO Paul Roetzer walked through AI’s possible impact on industries (like accounting) that struggle to attract and retain labor.

1. Generative AI is about to impact every part of work in every industry.

Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and others are quickly baking generative AI into all the software we all use in our daily work. That’s why Roetzer predicts 80% of what we do every day will be AI-assisted to some degree in the next 1-2 years.

Accounting is just one industry where we're starting to see this dynamic play out.

2. This will radically reshape jobs and potentially lead to workforce reductions.

Generative AI is already capable of creating massive efficiencies in knowledge work. This reduces the number of people needed for a particular activity.

The deciding factor then becomes if there’s demand to produce more of a product or service in the time saved, says Roetzer.

If there’s not, the assumption is that workforces will be reduced as a result.

“You have to assume you’re going to create efficiencies in the production of products and services and that this will likely reduce the amount of people needed to do the work,” says Roetzer.

3. However, that’s not the whole story.

Make no mistake, there is a real possibility that AI will lead to workforce reductions in some industries. But it may also solve intractable challenges faced by leaders in other industries.

In accounting, the industry lost hundreds of thousands of people over the last several years. That trend looks set to continue. In this scenario, AI can actually have a highly positive impact, by doing the work that companies struggle to hire for.

“What if AI is the savior for the profession?,” asks Roetzer.

What to do about it

If you're in an industry with a talent gap, get ready for rapid AI adoption.

“If you’re in one of those industries where you’re seeing a massive talent gap, there’s a really good chance that the leaders in those industries are going to become aware of AI’s potential to fill that talent gap very quickly,” says Roetzer.

“And that may accelerate the impact AI has in that profession in good and bad ways.

 

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