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AI-exposed sectors experience productivity surge as AI jobs climb and see up to 25% wage premium.

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Sectors more exposed to AI are experiencing almost five times (4.8x) higher growth in labour productivity, according to PwC’s inaugural 2024 Global AI Jobs Barometer, published today. 

The report, which analysed over half a billion job ads from 15 countries, suggests that AI could allow many nations to break out of persistent low productivity growth, generating economic development, higher wages, and enhanced living standards.

The report finds that for every job posting requiring AI specialist skills (like machine learning) in 2012, there are now seven job postings1. PwC research also finds that growth in jobs demanding AI skills has outpaced all jobs since 2016, with postings for jobs requiring AI skills growing 3.5x faster than for all jobs.

The findings also highlight economic opportunity for labour forces: jobs that require AI skills carry up to a 25% average wage premium in some markets. 

Skills sought by employers are changing much faster in occupations more exposed to AI, with old skills disappearing – and new skills appearing – in job ads at a 25% higher rate than in occupations less exposed to AI. To stay relevant in these occupations, workers will need to demonstrate or acquire new skills.

In Ireland, PwC’s 2024 Irish CEO survey revealed that many Irish business leaders expect better outcomes for their businesses as a result of GenAI – 69% of Irish CEOs expect GenAI to have a positive impact on their employees’ time at work but the great majority (60%) say it will require workforce upskilling in the next 3 years.

As questions abound around AI technology’s impact on everything from job security to long-term business viability, the findings highlight positive news, even for workers in sectors most exposed to AI. The findings reflect a good news story for workers and the global economy in which AI-enabled workers are more productive and more valuable, opening the door to rising prosperity for workers and nations. Like past technological revolutions from electricity to computers, AI is changing what it takes for workers to succeed – and those who adapt may enjoy vast new opportunities. 

David Lee, PwC Ireland Chief Technology Officer, said: “Based on this research and on what we are seeing in our GenAI Business Centre, AI is transforming the labour market globally. For many economies experiencing labour shortages and low productivity growth, the findings highlight optimism around AI with the technology representing an opportunity for economic development, job-creation and the creation of new industries entirely. 

“However, the findings also show that workers will need to build new skills and organisations will need to invest in their AI strategies and people if they are to turbocharge their development and ensure they are fit for the AI age. Ensuring a skills-first approach to recruitment as well as continued investment in workforce upskilling is imperative as no industry or market will remain immune to the impact of AI’s technological and economic transformation.”

Near fivefold productivity growth in sectors more exposed to AI

The findings paint a positive picture of the impact of AI on labour markets and productivity. Sectors most exposed to AI – financial services, information technology, and professional services – are experiencing nearly 5x higher labour productivity growth than sectors less exposed to AI.2

Jobs that require AI skills carry significant wage premiums

Across the five major labour markets for which wage data is available (US, UK, Canada, Australia and Singapore), jobs that require AI specialist skills carry a significant wage premium (up to 25% on average in the US), underlining the value of these skills to companies. Across industries (in the US for example), this can range from 18% for accountants, 33% for financial analysts, 43% for sales and marketing managers, to 49% for lawyers. While the wage premium differs by market, overwhelmingly this is higher in all markets analysed. 

AI penetration is accelerating, particularly in knowledge work sectors 

The study finds that knowledge work sectors are seeing the most rapid growth in the share of roles requiring AI skills. This includes financial services (2.8x higher share of jobs requiring AI skills vs other sectors), professional services (3x higher) and information & communication (5x higher).3

No going back to yesterday’s jobs markets: the skills building imperative

Companies, workers, and policymakers share responsibility for helping workers build the skills to succeed in a fast changing jobs market. Skills demanded by employers in occupations more exposed to AI are changing at a 25% higher rate than in less exposed occupations. 69% of CEOs expect AI will require new skills from their workforce, rising to 87% of CEOs who have already deployed AI, according to PwC’s 27th Annual Global CEO Survey 2024.  

Keith Power, Risk Assurance Partner, PwC Ireland, concluded: “AI provides much more than efficiency gains. AI offers fundamentally new ways of creating value. We see companies using AI to amplify the value their people can deliver. There is a nearly limitless demand for many things if we can improve our ability to deliver them – and limitless opportunity for organisations and individuals that invest in learning and applying the technology. However, AI needs to be applied in a safe, secure and responsible way. The new EU AI Act aims to provide protection from the potential risks and thereby allow organisations to invest in the use of AI with confidence.”

1Refers to six of the fifteen countries analysed: US, UK, Singapore, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

2Due to the availability of OECD data, PwC analysis focused on just these six sectors profiled for the period 2018-2022 (2023 data has not yet been released).

3Other sectors include: Agriculture, Mining, Power, Water, Retail Trade, Transportation, Accomodation, Real Estate, Administrative, Arts and Entertainment, Household Activities, Construction, Manufacturing, Education and Social Activities and ExtraCurricular Activities.

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About the PwC 2024 Global AI Jobs Barometer

PwC’s new AI Jobs Barometer uses half a billion job ads from 15 countries to (the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, USA, Canada, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand) examine AI’s impact on jobs, skills, wages, and productivity. Analysing data from the past decade and across a large number of sectors, the report provides insight on AI job penetration, salary premiums, vacancy rates and more. 

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