Generative AI Not Replacing UK Jobs, Study Finds

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is not yet replacing jobs in the UK, but is being broadly deployed to support existing roles, a study has found, indicating that fears the technology would have an immediate effect on employment may have been exaggerated.

Nearly three-quarters of UK tech leaders, such as chief information officers and chief technology officers, said they had deployed generative AI to at least some employees, but 99 percent said it was not yet replacing jobs, found the Tuesday study by digital services consultancy Nash Squared.

More than half of respondents were instead using generative AI to support existing jobs, the study found.

“In our discussions with tech leaders there is a sense that its impact will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary,” said Nash Squared chief executive Bev White.

Image credit: Unsplash

AI business case

She added that the study indicated organisations with company-wide generative AI deployments were actually more likely than the average to be increasing tech headcount over the next year.

Organisations are rapidly bringing in policies and even chief officers to specifically handle generative AI, with the number of firms with such policies doubling over the past six months.

One in twenty UK-based firms now have chief AI officers, a figure Nash said it expects to rise over time to one in ten.

Nearly 40 percent of UK tech leaders said they remained concerned about the misuse of generative AI tools while more than half, or 55 percent, said they had yet to find a clear business case for them beyond personal productivity.

Budgets were also a constraining factor, with 27 percent citing this as an impediment to rolling out the technology.

A recent study found that public awareness of generative AI lagged far behind the industry’s hype around the technology, with 30 percent of respondents in the UK saying they had never heard of it.

Tech investment

Investment in technology generally remained strong for UK tech leaders, with 43 percent expecting to increase their tech budget in the next 12 months and just over one-third expecting to increase their tech headcount.

Sixty-seven percent said they were being held back by the economy, but there was a general expectation that things would bounce back by the start of next year.

Firms have also begun increasing the number of days employees were expected in the office, with 19 percent doing so in the past six months, typically moving from 2-3 days to 3 days.

Some 87 percent said they found hybrid arrangements were working ‘quite’ or ‘extremely well’, but the study noted that more days in the office did have an impact on issues such as diverse hiring.

Sixty-six percent of UK tech leaders said progress on sustainability had either stayed the same or declined, and a similar 68 percent reported the same with diversity initiatives.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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