Wanted: 200,000 Aussies to design, deploy and sell AI

Rather than steal human jobs, artificial intelligence technology could create as many as 200,000 roles for Australians by 2030, according to research from the Tech Council.

But the spike in demand could be hard to meet, the study warned, and experts urged the government to prepare an investment plan to ensure it capitalised on the rapidly growing industry.

The Tech Council of Australia launched the research in Parliament House, Canberra, on Tuesday in collaboration with Microsoft, LinkedIn and Workday.

The Meeting the AI Skills Boom report found 33,000 Australians were employed in AI roles in 2023 but data from the CSIRO and LinkedIn showed that figure could soar to as many as 200,000 roles by the end of the decade.

While more than four in five AI jobs would centre around technology, including engineering, data science, design and cybersecurity fields, the study found AI would create demand for jobs in areas including finance, marketing, legal and policy departments.

Tech Council chief executive Damien Kassabgi said a broad range of skilled workers would be needed to support Australia’s AI transition.

‚ÄúIn addition to roles that are responsible for developing, designing and maintaining AI systems, we will need people with skills in areas such as human resources, sales and governance to successfully scale these systems and businesses to harness the potential in front of us,‚ÄĚ he said.

‚ÄúArtificial intelligence is one of the leading tech trends and it‚Äôs transforming how we work.‚ÄĚ

The report recommended more vocational training opportunities for Australians entering the workforce, in additional to upskilling opportunities and mid-career courses to prepare existing workers.

AI literacy should also be promoted in workplaces, the report found, and the government should remove occupation lists attached to skilled migration rules to help companies address workforce shortages.

But Workday public service regional sales director Paul Leahy said the government needed to consider AI investments and policies to prepare for the change and ensure Australia had enough workers to meet demand.

‚ÄúWe need to prepare Australia‚Äôs workforce for the opportunities that the widespread adoption of AI presents and ensure we have the pipelines of AI-ready workers in place,‚ÄĚ he said.

‚ÄúA comprehensive AI investment and capability plan for Australia is also essential to provide a clear path for regulation and governance, digital infrastructure and research, and commercialisation.‚ÄĚ

The study estimated wider adoption of generative AI in Australia could contribute $115 billion to the economy, with 70 per cent of the benefit due to productivity gains.

Australia has yet to introduce specific laws around the use of AI, though the federal government appointed a national advisory body in February to consider mandatory rules for high-risk AI use.

 

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)

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