In the rapidly evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, concerns over job displacement have reached new heights. According to a groundbreaking report by the McKinsey Global Institute, women may bear the brunt of this technological shift, with a higher risk of losing their jobs compared to their male counterparts by the end of the decade.
The study, based on recent advancements in AI technology and its potential impact on the job market, revealed a startling statistic: nearly eight in ten women are at risk of being displaced by automation or AI, either having to switch companies or face unemployment.
Among the industries expected to witness the most significant shrinkage due to automation are food services, customer service, sales, and office support. These fields have a disproportionate representation of women, particularly in lower-paying positions, making them more susceptible to job loss.
The report highlights that office support and customer service roles could see a decline of about 3.7 million and 2.0 million jobs, respectively, by 2030. Additionally, other low-wage positions predominantly held by women, such as retail salespeople and cashiers, are also likely to be affected.
To mitigate the impact of this impending disruption, the McKinsey Global Institute emphasises the urgency for women to expand their skill sets and adapt to the changing work environment. This involves actively seeking out new positions and acquiring the necessary training to work alongside automation effectively.
Companies, too, have a pivotal role to play in this transformation. The report advises businesses to actively recruit, hire, and train individuals who possess the potential to collaborate with automated systems.
By investing in the upskilling of their workforce, businesses can create a more resilient and adaptable workforce, better equipped to face the challenges of AI and automation.
The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by the end of 2030, at least 12 million workers in the United States will need to switch occupations to cope with the impact of automation.
In a recent interview with CNN, Julia Pollak, a chief economist with ZipRecruiter, expressed her astonishment at the findings, calling them "just staggering."
She acknowledged that some job sectors may be more prone to automation than others, and industries with predominantly male workers, such as carpentry, electrician work, and pest removal, may be less susceptible to displacement.
Indeed, in March 2023, Goldman Sachs released a report predicting that the rise of generative AI, like ChatGPT, could affect as many as 300 million jobs globally. The ability of generative AI systems to produce content akin to human output could usher in a productivity boom, revolutionising the job market in the next decade.
As the job landscape continues to evolve, it is essential for society, businesses, and individuals to recognize and address the potential disparities that AI and automation may bring. By taking proactive steps to adapt and embrace the changing work environment, women can position themselves to thrive in the age of technological disruption.
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