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Microsoft’s UK CEO says tech giant has more LinkedIn vacancies than it did before AI boom

The jobs market is “changing right before our eyes”, the UK boss of Microsoft says, but not necessarily to the detriment of AI-wary workers.

In the latest return in the heated debate over whether AI will be a job maker or job taker, Clare Barclay is falling on the bullish side, and she has the data to prove it.

Barclay, Microsoft’s UK CEO, says the company has more vacancies advertised on LinkedIn than before the pandemic and, more importantly, before the AI boom.

Speaking at Evident’s AI Symposium, Barclay said this was down to a mixture of employees looking to shift roles and employers trying to find the right skills for a new age of AI-augmented work.

Job maker or job taker?

“There’s a lot of people that are saying, ‘I want to move jobs’, and then there’s a ton of employers where the biggest thing on their mind is, ‘I can’t find enough people’,” Barclay said.

The Microsoft exec, who has been in her role since October 2020, says she hasn’t seen anything like the last year of progress in her 30 years working in tech, as funding poured into AI startups while tech giants rushed to develop large language models and other exciting software.

Concerns are growing over what this automation movement will mean for the labor market, and pessimists can point to several examples to show why.

Goldman Sachs predicts AI could automate 300 million jobs globally by 2030. In an even more doomsday-style prediction, venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee recently doubled down on his 2017 forecast that AI would displace 50% of jobs by 2027.

“People have criticised me for being too aggressive in 2017, 2018, 2019, and I was a little nervous at the time,” the chairman and chief executive of Sinovation Ventures said at Fortune’s Innovation forum in Hong Kong in March.

“But when gen AI came out, I think everybody’s on the bandwagon and believing that is the correct pace.”

While analysts have emphasised that transition won’t happen overnight, there are already examples of businesses using AI to overhaul their labour requirements.

Last year, Swedish buy now, pay later pioneer Klarna said it had frozen hiring, citing the impact of AI on its operations. In an update in February, the group said its chatbot was doing the work of 700 customer service agents.

Barclay, however, still sees AI as an augmenter of tasks. Speaking alongside London Stock Exchange Group CEO David Schwimmer at Evident’s event, the pair detailed how AI was doing this, including acting as a briefing tool for meetings and an email organiser.

“Everyone at work has got things that will make their work a bit easier and can help them and let them focus on the things that are a little bit more joyful,” Barclay said.

Barclay said Microsoft co-pilot was like having a “really good MBA grad” working for you, and prompting it was the same as training a young upstart.

“If you had an MBA grad with you, you wouldn’t just give them a short description (of a task). You would actually give them a task that would be quite expansive,” she says, adding Microsoft is doing more work on sharing what types of prompts are more effective for training AI. – New York Times

Originally Appeared Here

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