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AI Skills Essential: Microsoft and LinkedIn Report Reveals New Talent Requirements in Competitive Job Market

Published May 8, 2024 3:22 PM
Giuseppe Ciccomascolo
Published May 8, 2024 3:22 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Artificial intelligence usage has nearly doubled in the past six months, a Microsoft and LinkedIn report finds.
  • Employees report AI saving time and boosting creativity, allowing them to focus on higher-level tasks.
  • Company leaders prioritize candidates with AI skills, creating a new talent requirement.
  • Both Microsoft and LinkedIn have also announced new AI-powered tools for workers.

The dawn of artificial intelligence (AI)-driven work is upon us, ushering in a new era of productivity and innovation, a joint report by Microsoft and LinkedIn outlines.

The report unveils a workforce eager to embrace AI’s potential, yet encountering hurdles as leadership struggles to keep pace.

The Joint Report

Microsoft and LinkedIn have unveiled the 2024 Work Trend Index , a collaborative report  titled “AI at work is here. Now comes the hard part.”

Drawing on insights from a survey of 31,000 individuals across 31 countries, as well as labor and hiring trends on LinkedIn, trillions of Microsoft 365 productivity signals, and engagements with Fortune 500 clients, the research delves into how artificial intelligence is already shaping the way people work, lead, and hire globally, just one year into its widespread adoption.

The evidence is clear: 2024 marks the pivotal year when AI integration into the workplace becomes a tangible reality. Utilization of generative AI has nearly doubled in the last six months alone. LinkedIn reports a significant uptick in professionals updating their profiles with AI skills, with most leaders expressing a preference for candidates possessing such capabilities.

However, despite this enthusiasm, many leaders express concerns about their organization lacking a clear AI strategy, while employees are increasingly resorting to utilizing their own AI tools, a phenomenon dubbed Bring Your Own AI (BYOAI), potentially jeopardizing data security. Thus, the challenge for leaders lies in transitioning from experimental AI usage to realizing tangible business impacts.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft‘s Chairman and CEO, commented, “AI is democratizing expertise across the workforce.” This underscores the opportunity for every organization to leverage this technology for improved decision-making, collaboration, and overall business outcomes.

Employees Want AI At Work

Employees are increasingly eager for AI integration in the workplace and are unwilling to wait for companies to catch up. The report finds that 75% of knowledge workers now utilize AI at work, citing its ability to save time, enhance creativity, and allow them to focus on critical tasks. Despite 79% of leaders acknowledging AI’s critical role in remaining competitive, concerns linger about quantifying its productivity gains (59%) and the absence of a clear implementation vision and strategy (60%).

Consequently, employees are taking matters into their own hands, with 78% resorting to BYOAI, albeit missing out on the benefits of strategic AI use at scale and posing data security risks. The opportunity for every leader lies in harnessing this employee-driven momentum to achieve impactful business outcomes at scale.

Moreover, AI is reshaping career paths, transcending conventional limitations. A hidden talent shortage persists, with leaders in sectors like cybersecurity, engineering, and creative design experiencing its impact. Simultaneously, professionals worldwide are contemplating career transitions, with 46% considering quitting in the upcoming year, marking a historic high since the Great Reshuffle of 2021.

While two-thirds of leaders wouldn’t hire someone lacking AI skills, only 39% of users have received AI training from their companies, with only 25% of companies expecting to offer such training this year. Consequently, professionals are proactively upskilling, evidenced by a significant surge in LinkedIn members adding AI skills to their profiles and a notable increase in nontechnical professionals utilizing LinkedIn Learning courses to bolster their AI aptitude.

In a landscape where AI is mentioned in LinkedIn job posts, which drives a 17% application growth, the symbiotic relationship between organizations empowering employees with AI tools and training and professionals enhancing their skills becomes evident, offering a competitive edge for both parties.

Emergence of AI Power Users

The research identified four distinct categories of AI users, ranging from skeptics who seldom utilize AI to power users who heavily rely on it. Compared to skeptics, AI power users have fundamentally reshaped their work routines, revolutionizing business processes and saving over 30 minutes daily.

More than 90% of power users credit AI with making their workload more manageable and their work more enjoyable, but they’re not navigating this transformation alone. These users are 61% more likely to receive communication from their CEO stressing the importance of integrating generative AI into work processes, 53% more likely to receive encouragement from leadership to explore AI’s transformative potential, and 35% more likely to receive customized AI training tailored to their specific role or function.

The New Hiring Imperative
The New Hiring Imperative. l Source: Microsoft/LinkedIn

Ryan Roslansky, CEO of LinkedIn, said: “AI is reshaping the work landscape, demanding new strategies. It’s the leaders who prioritize agility over stability and invest in internal skill development that will gain a competitive edge, fostering more efficient, engaged, and equitable teams.”

Leaders have already made significant strides in acquiring technical AI talent, experiencing a remarkable 323% surge in hiring over the past eight years. Presently, their attention is shifting towards non-technical talent equipped with AI aptitude—the proficiency to utilize generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Copilot effectively.

Microsoft and LinkedIn findings show that 66% of leaders are reluctant to hire candidates lacking AI skills, and 71% indicate a preference for hiring less experienced candidates possessing AI skills over more experienced candidates without them. Moreover, junior candidates may find themselves at an advantage, as 77% of leaders foresee early-career talent being entrusted with greater responsibilities facilitated by AI.

New AI Tools From Microsoft and LinkedIn

LinkedIn has introduced its AI tools for career growth. Key offerings include LinkedIn Learning’s vast library of courses, including over 600 AI courses, fostering proficiency in generative AI and empowering informed business decisions.

Along with the report on AI at work, Microsoft also announced the introduction of new features for Copilot in Microsoft 365 to facilitate AI integration.

These innovations include an auto-complete feature that suggests detailed prompts based on user input, a rewrite feature enabling users to transform basic prompts into richer ones with a single click and Catch Up, a chat interface that provides personalized insights and recommendations.

Copilot Lab aims to offer enhanced capabilities for creating, publishing, and managing prompts tailored to specific teams, roles, and functions. These features are set to roll out in the coming months.

The Microsoft and LinkedIn report paints a clear picture: the future of work is AI-powered. While employees are enthusiastic and actively embracing AI tools, a gap exists between their eagerness and leadership’s preparedness.

To bridge this gap, leaders must prioritize AI strategy development, invest in employee training, and harness the momentum of the “Bring Your Own AI” trend. By fostering a culture of AI-enabled work, organizations can unlock a new era of productivity, innovation, and a competitive edge in the evolving workplace.

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