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Executives Say Half of Skills Obsolete in 2 Years Thanks to AI

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According to a new bombshell survey from online education platform edX, executives believe that nearly half of all skills in today’s workforce won’t be relevant just two years from now thanks to AI.

The survey polled 1,600 full-time US-based employees, including 800 C-Suite executives and 800 knowledge workers.

Among the C-Suite executives surveyed, they estimate that 49% of all skills that exist in the workforce today won’t be relevant in 2025. And they feel that 47% of their workforce is unprepared for the future of work.

87% of the C-Suite also say they’re struggling to find talent with AI skills. And 79% of the C-Suite executives fear that if they don’t learn AI, they won’t be prepared for the future of work.

Interestingly, there’s a big disconnect between the C-Suite and employees. 56% of the C-Suite said they believe executive roles at their company could be “completely” or “partially” replaced by AI. Whereas only 20% of employees think “most” or “all” of their role could be automated by AI.

Why It Matters

The research, regardless of its conclusions, shows how executives are thinking about AI. This, in turn, gives us a glimpse at how company leaders may react to the technology.

In Episode 69 of The Marketing AI Show, Marketing AI CEO/founder Paul Roetzer unpacked what to pay attention to here.

  1. Remember, all research contains bias. This report is no exception. In our experience, many C-Suite leaders still have only a baseline understanding of AI. So asking them to project out where AI is going is a flawed approach at best. “They are just not going to know,” says Roetzer. Take all numbers with a grain of salt.
  2. But this is a valuable window into the C-Suite thought process. It’s a bit crazy that the C-Suite thinks nearly half of skills will be obsolete so quickly. But the fact they think that is valuable to know, even if we disagree with the assessment, says Roetzer.
  3. C-Suite thinking also revisits an uncomfortable conversation. We have to understand that many CEOs and other leaders, especially those at publicly traded or private equity backed firms, have a responsibility to keep costs down. Right now, a lot of that happens through offshoring. If these leaders have a way to achieve the same outcome with AI, they’re going to do it, says Roetzer.
  4. So there will naturally be a discrepancy between executives and employees. Employees simply aren’t thinking about AI from the same perspective as executives. This will have an effect on how each group approaches AI technology and the urgency with which they do so.

What to Do About It

Education is the biggest gap—and it’s the one you can control.

The report confirms what our own research and experience has proven to us time and time again:

The best way to make sure AI doesn’t make you or your staff obsolete—regardless of your perspective on AI—is education and training.

Both are in very short supply internally at most companies.

Most firms lack formal training and education programs around AI. Yet preparing people for AI is the biggest thing that leaders can control right now.

If there’s one takeaway here, it’s this: make it a priority to build or buy formal AI education ASAP.

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