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Australians underestimate Generative AI's impact on jobs, study shows
Thu, 21st Mar 2024

According to data recently released by RMIT Online and Deloitte Access Economics, a significant proportion of Australian employees do not believe their roles will be affected by Generative AI, despite research pointing to the contrary.

The study showed that 47% of employees have never used Generative AI in their professional life, with 73% attributing this to believing that Generative AI is irrelevant to their role. This contrasts starkly with previous evidence that suggests around 86% of all occupations will experience an impact.

The report, titled Ready, Set, Upskill, also found that only 5% of Australian businesses are fully prepared to utilise and take advantage of AI capabilities. Furthermore, other digital skill deficits were found to be prevalent, with 29-36% of employees admitting they lack crucial digital skills, deeming them outdated. Such skills include abilities in AI or machine learning, data science, coding and cyber security, creating a pressing demand for skills in these areas.

Nic Cola, CEO of RMIT Online, said, "Generative AI is unlike any past digital disruption. It will continue to transform the way we learn and work, level the playing field and create new roles and job disruptions. The digital skills gap Australia is experiencing has been further exacerbated by the emergence of critical technologies such as AI and we must not be complacent in our attitudes to reskilling and upskilling if we are to keep pace with our international counterparts."

Businesses recognise the necessity of these digital skills and are willing to compensate for them. In general, the research showed that employers are prepared to pay an additional 8% (or AUD $5,408) wage premium for candidates demonstrating these skills.

Generative AI also has the potential to transform professional development, with John O'Mahony, Partner at Deloitte Access Economics, stating, “Generative AI capitalises on aspects where traditional learning and development falls short. Therefore, it will play a critical role in Australia’s skills transition. Employers can use Generative AI to create tailored learning and development content for their employees, accelerating their learning speed and retention."

Despite the imperative of reskilling and upskilling, 78% of employers surveyed have either not provided or were unaware of Generative AI training programmes within their organisations. With the digital transition undergoing rapid acceleration throughout the Australian economy, the relevance and impact of Generative AI are becoming increasingly undeniable.

Research previously conducted has indicated that the five prime industries to experience a 'short fuse, big bang scenario', where Generative AI can cause a swift, significant impact, are financial services, ICT and media, professional services, education, and wholesale trade. These industries constitute 26% of the Australian economy, equating to nearly AUD $600 billion in economic activity.