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Is AI the Future of Career Development?

published11 months ago
4 min read

Would you trust Artificial Intelligence (AI) to guide your career trajectory?

If you said “yes,” you’re not alone. According to new research from Oracle and my company, Workplace Intelligence, 85% of the global workforce want technology to help define their future. What’s even more remarkable is that 82% of people believe AI can support their career development better than humans!

But perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised. After all, in last year’s study we found that 68% of employees would prefer to talk to a robot (i.e., an AI-powered chatbot counselor) over their manager about stress and anxiety at work. Slowly but surely, AI is beginning to edge its way into our lives, even when it comes to our well-being and what we do for a living.

This year’s findings underscore this trend more than any other study I’ve seen. It’s a sign that our collective trust in technology continues to grow with each passing year. But it also reflects that people are eager to start a new chapter in their lives after an immensely difficult year and a half.

How we got here

It’s not a coincidence that workers are so willing to hand over the reins to technology right now. Beyond struggling with their mental health, over the past year people have felt stagnant in every aspect of their lives — including their career. In fact, we found that 75% have felt “stuck” in their professional lives.

People have also taken the time to reflect on what really matters to them in life, and 88% say they’ve redefined what it means to be successful at work. “Success” is now much less about pay and more about having work-life balance, flexibility, good mental health, and a meaningful job.

These shifting priorities are part of the reason why so many Americans have left their jobs over the past few months. In fact, since April 2021 over 15 million people have quit in what’s being called the “great resignation.” And new research finds that 50% of employees want to leave their jobs, which means that all signs point to the quit rate continuing to accelerate in 2022.

Starting a new chapter

So where are we now, and what does the future hold? Well, one thing is for certain: people will no longer tolerate companies that treat them poorly or don’t give them the tools they need to succeed. Today’s workers expect their employer to provide concrete steps for professional development, or they’ll leave for a company that does offer growth opportunities.

Our research confirmed just how eager employees are to progress at work, finding that 83% want to advance their career or make career changes over the next year. However, 76% are facing major obstacles in their path forward, including a lack of employer support. In fact, a whopping 85% of respondents said they’re not satisfied with their company’s support for their career, citing insufficient learning opportunities, a lack of roles and projects to help them grow, and inadequate career navigation technology.

And they’re facing other obstacles as well: financial struggles, not knowing what career change makes sense, and not feeling confident enough to make a change, to name a few. But no matter what these challenges look like, it's clear that change is on the horizon. And based on our study, technology will play a pivotal role in helping people navigate “what’s next” in their careers.

Why people are turning to technology

Our research uncovered that 85% of workers want technology to help define their future, for example by identifying the skills they need or giving them steps to progress toward their career goals. And 82% of respondents believe AI can support their career development better than people.

That’s not to say that employees don’t want or need any help from humans. Humans will always be better at providing personal advice based on real-world experiences, and looking beyond someone’s resume. It’s just that AI is better at some things, like offering unbiased recommendations, findings jobs that fit with a specific skillset, and quickly answering questions or delivering resources.

But this isn’t just a matter of convenience or speed — the benefits of AI go much deeper than that. We found that over half of employees say that using AI would make them feel more empowered, less stressed, and more in control when it comes to their careers. And 55% say they would be more likely to stay with an employer that uses AI to support career growth.

Early adopters could enjoy big benefits

Although AI-enabled career support is relatively new, some companies are already on-board. Last year, Sanofi launched an AI-based tool designed to empower employees to take control of their career development and help management facilitate internal mobility. Similarly, IBM uses AI software to direct its employees to projects and job opportunities within the company. And Oracle, the company I partnered with on this research, uses its own HCM solution to help its employees thrive and grow within the organization.

These solutions could be critical for business continuity, especially as companies grapple with the current talent shortage and the prospect of an increasing quit rate. In fact, 76% of respondents report that there is a skills gap at their organization. Yet just 42% say their company is upskilling workers, and only 27% are using AI to help identify and fill internal roles.

“To attract and retain talent, businesses need to place a higher priority on helping employees identify and develop new skills and provide personalized career journeys so they can feel in control of their careers again,” says Yvette Cameron, Senior Vice President, Oracle Cloud HCM.

I couldn’t agree more. Organizations that are early adopters will not only be seen as more innovative and supportive; they’ll also be giving employees what they need to be at their personal and professional best in the wake of the pandemic and beyond. And that’s a recipe for higher levels of employee satisfaction and a better bottom line.

Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think on LinkedIn!