As the world experiences a tight labor market and a cost-of-living crisis, the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) poses both opportunities and risks to jobs across OECD countries. Recent surveys conducted by the OECD reveal the urgent need for policy action to ensure that workers can benefit from artificial intelligence while addressing potential job displacement and concerns surrounding worker rights.
AI Will Affect Jobs and Wages
Although the global economy has stabilized, workers are facing challenges as nominal wages fail to keep up with high and persistent inflation. Real income has declined in almost all OECD countries, exacerbating the cost-of-living crisis. Furthermore, the rise of AI is likely to significantly affect jobs, with 27% of occupations at high risk of automation. Jobs at highest risk were defined as those using more than 25 of the 100 skills and abilities that AI experts consider can be easily automated. This calls for immediate attention to ensure a smooth transition for workers.
The Worker’s Perspective on AI
A survey conducted by the OECD last year found that workers in manufacturing and finance sectors have mixed opinions about AI. While some workers reported positive outcomes such as increased job satisfaction, improved health, and reduced tedium, others expressed concerns about privacy, work intensity, and bias. In addition, three out of five workers worry that AI could cost them their jobs within the next ten years.
To address the challenges posed by AI, governments could implement several measures:
- Support for Low-Wage Workers: Governments should consider wage policies, such as minimum wages and collective bargaining, to mitigate the impact on purchasing power. Direct support through the tax and benefit system can also protect low-income households.
- Safeguarding Worker Rights: To ensure the trustworthy use of AI, governments should enforce key principles that protect workers’ fundamental rights and well-being. AI should serve to support inclusive labor markets rather than hinder them.
- Promoting AI Training: The rapid development and adoption of AI necessitate the acquisition of new skills. Governments should encourage employers to provide training, integrate AI skills into education, and promote diversity in the AI workforce. This approach will ensure that workers remain adaptable in the changing job market.
The advent of AI presents both promising opportunities and potential risks to the global workforce. Governments, employers, and workers must act collectively to navigate this AI revolution successfully. As it continues to reshape the job landscape, it is crucial for society to strike a balance between harnessing the potential of this technology and safeguarding the decent work.
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