18 Apr 2024

AI skills linked to higher salary, productivity, new jobs - report

8:33 am on 18 April 2024
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The report found AI skills could boost salaries by 30 to 41 percent. Photo: Unsplash / Sigmond

Generative AI could dramatically boost New Zealand's overall productivity with workers in line for much bigger salaries to match, a global tech giant says.

A report by Access Partnership, Accelerating AI Skills: Preparing the Workforce in New Zealand for Jobs of the Future, commissioned by AWS indicates 90 percent of businesses and their staff expected to be using generative AI tools within five years.

"It actually is going to be one of these really sort of widespread technologies that underpins everything that we do in the workplace," Access Partnership economist Fraser Thompson said.

More than 500 organisations and nearly 1700 workers were surveyed for the report, indicating widespread enthusiasm for using AI in the workplace.

Thompson said AI was expected to be used by 92 percent of the workforce, including tech and non-tech workers, representing all age groups, including boomers.

He said the current workforce needed to be trained, with research indicating there would be few job losses, though new job categories would be created.

"I think one of the more exciting bits of the report is that AI skills can potentially boost salary by around 30 to 41 percent.

"It does also raise the imperative that we make sure that all types of workers have access to these skills, so that they can all participate in the potential salary boost."

Thompson said all age groups were interested in gaining the skills, with 70 percent of older workers also keen to gather the appropriate skills to advance their careers.

He said AI was expected to drive average annual productivity gains of between 1 and 2 percent to about 49 percent.

"This is an absolute game changer."

However, the tech skills gap was an ongoing concern.

The survey found 63 percent of businesses were looking to employ people with AI skills, though 70 percent said they were struggling to find the right kind of talent and 79 percent were unsure about how to train workers to use AI to improve productivity.

"There are some real practical blockers and we need to really figure out from a policy and society standpoint, how do we get the right kind of AI talent we need," Thompson said.

AWS head of strategy Pip Gilbert said it was offering free online AI training to all workers and students interested in learning more, with a scholarship programme available for students.

NZ Tech chief executive Graeme Muller said industry and government would need to work together to realise the potential gains.

Kiwibank general manager Tim Gardner said training was key to driving growth.

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