By 2032, generative AI will significantly change half of all jobs, report says

Dive Brief:

  • By 2032, generative artificial intelligence will have profoundly shifted the way we approach work, productivity and economic growth, with 52% of all jobs predicted to significantly change as generative AI is integrated into automated tasks, according to an analysis by technology advisory firm Cognizant. As a result, about 9% of the current U.S. workforce may be displaced, and 1% of the displaced workers will potentially struggle to find new employment, the research, released Jan. 10, found.
  • With generative AI, historical trends have flipped: In the past, technology advances and automation largely impacted manual labor and process-centric knowledge work. This time, jobs with higher levels of knowledge may be most affected, according to the research, conducted in partnership with Oxford Economics. Already, jobs involving credit analysis, computer programming, web development, database administration and graphic design have a “theoretical maximum exposure” score of 50%, meaning half of their job tasks are prone to being fully automated by generative AI, the research revealed. By 2032, as technology advances, this score may climb to 80% for some jobs, it found. 
  • To maximize generative AI’s potential, businesses must trust the technology and bolster trust between themselves and their employees, Cognizant said. Employers may also need to focus on building robust reskilling programs in response.

Dive Insight:

It may be that the workplace skill getting the toughest workout lately is adaptability — the ability of managers, their direct reports, HR pros and business leaders to quickly adjust to seemingly endless changes to how they get work done. Transitioning to the use of generative AI puts this in sharp focus.

For instance, during the past year, organizations have been tentatively using generative AI for tasks manageable in scope and low in risk, such as creating images, generating text for emails and reports, and suggesting code for developers, the Cognizant research showed. A Jan. 11 report from Boston Consulting Group also noted that CEOs are holding back. About 9 in 10 said they’re waiting for the tech to move from hype to reality or are experimenting with it in a limited way.

That’s a common response to changing technology — to wait and see where things land, according to BCG’s CEO. But with generative AI, those who move forward at scale will come out ahead, the CEO noted.

Cognizant’s findings emphasized the urgency of doing so: Over the next three years, organizations will have to commit to major overhauls of their business and operating models because by 2026, they’ll see a notable rise in generative AI’s role across a range of professions, Cognizant said. 

C-suite execs — including CEOs — are not immune. Areas long considered the purview of senior executives, such as cost reduction, program improvement and policy change, are predicted to significantly increase in “automatability,” the report explained. CEOs could see up to 25% of their roles exposed to Gen AI, as they begin using it for everything from reviewing reports and analyzing operations to conducting competitive assessments and making strategic decisions, the report added.

HR professionals play a critical role in this transition, according to recent research by global HR advisory firm McLean & Co. In particular, HR must take the lead in developing strategic initiatives that address how generative AI impacts talent. This includes developing or adjusting strategies for automating tasks, reshaping roles and shifting talent requirements as their organization’s needs evolve, McLean explained.

Employees, for their part, have repeatedly expressed mixed feelings about the tech. On one hand, they say they’re anxious about being displaced, about not knowing how to use AI ethically, or about its legal or cybersecurity risks. On the other hand, employees also say they’re open to AI and see the value in it helping them become more efficient and able to focus on higher value work.

However, there is a consensus: Employees want more guidance from their leaders. The positive news is that each new report further clarifies how leaders can provide it.

For example, while businesses can’t guarantee that layoffs won’t occur, all organizations can roll out a new generation of reskilling programs that should be an essential part of the workday, Cognizant said. The programs can take a variety of forms, such as partnerships with higher education institutions or collaborations with policy makers, government officials, regulators or even across shared industries, the report noted.