There is a notion that artificial intelligence and machine learning will lead to massive layoffs, creating an economic downturn we haven't seen in years.  We have candidates running for office on this fear, but in reality the current (and future) state of the knowledge worker is anything but dire.

There are a number of recent reports suggesting the opposite. Let's dive into what they've found, and what it means for our future educated workforce.

Growth of the Knowledge Worker

1. McKinsey & Company estimated there are 230 million knowledge workers in the world.

2. The Wall Street Journal states “knowledge work occupations have been adding more jobs than any other since the 1980s — about 1.9 million per year.

3. The other categories are growing too, but only by about 100,000 to 250,000 per year.

So what does this mean? Robots haven't taken our jobs just yet. Knowledge workers aren't being phased out anytime soon, and job growth is healthy. With that being said, occupations might be changing, so let's take a look at that.

Job Evolution

4. Although automation will play a role in the future workforce, the future will hinge more on experts who wield smart technologies, with 78% of recent survey respondents citing that smart technologies will most significantly change the workplace by 2020.

5. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics the need for advanced IT and programming skills will continue to grow. There will be 1.4 million open computing jobs by 2020 but only 400,000 computer-science graduates with the skills to fill them.

6. Out of more than 150 such experts drawn from a larger global survey on AI in the enterprise, almost 60% say their old job descriptions are adapting in light of their new collaborations with AI.

7. Deloitte found that nearly half of businesses (44%) and employees (47%) already use some form of AI.

While focus has been on the destruction of jobs in the future, AI is largely here already. While these jobs are adapting, the reality is knowledge workers now have more information and better tools to do their jobs faster and more efficiently. This idea is supported by a recent Forbes Insights survey, which found that most executives agree that AI is already driving transformative improvement in workflows and tools for knowledge workers.

Job Creation

8. The World Economic Forum found that sixty-five percent of children now entering primary school will hold jobs that currently don’t exist.

9. In 2018, AI created 3x as many jobs as it displaced according to TechRepublic.

10. The World Economic Forum report titled “The Future of Jobs 2018” found that artificial intelligence is expected to create 58 million new jobs by 2022. While 75 million jobs will be displaced by AI, 133 million new roles will be created.

These numbers are astounding. We're already seeing the effects of AI on the workforce, and they're actually positive. Jobs are growing, and it is because of technology, not in spite of it. While jobs may look different in the future, they will definitely be there.

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