AI is changing the face of the workplace. It promises to deliver great benefits to the corporate world, as streamlining the kinds of tasks that are done mostly by entry-level workers will soon make them redundant. But what does this mean for the young people about to enter the job market? Will they too become redundant?
It is not only the introduction of AI that threatens the position of Gen Z’ers into the workforce; over the past several decades, many companies have gutted training programs, neglected mentorship, and taken no responsibility for fostering workers’ development. Now, with the advent of generative AI, organizations are starting to automate many “junior” tasks.
With ChatGPT now able to do most of the grunt work that has always been a part of the hands-on training expected of the young in the workforce, America’s youngest generation of workers is headed toward a career disaster. They may be more competent using ChatGPT and other AI technology than their older coworkers, but the managerial focus on artificial intelligence and how to turn it into profits threatens to undermine their ability to launch a career.
According to Ed Zitron, CEO of EZPR, a national tech and business public-relations agency, management spent decades distancing themselves from the younger workers who are the backbone and the future of their businesses. Already unwilling to train their junior employees, now they’re ready to get rid of them altogether.
This, along with a growing number of signs, suggests young Americans are going to have a much tougher time actually building a career. A large student-debt burden; over 40% of internships were unpaid yet a minimum of three years of experience are required to get an entry-level job; companies have no interest in helping them move up the career ladder; they are left to fend for themselves.
Now even the grunt work that had taken the place of “training’ has been taken away from them and instead, young people find themselves cleaning up the avalanche of errors that the faceless AI tools make, knowing they’ll receive little or no credit because the “work” came from a machine.
The reality is that it’s a lot cheaper for businesses to buy some new tech tools than train a real person. For a managerial class that has all but rejected any responsibility for helping foster workers’ growth, all that will matter is whether something is cheap and easy.
So, what’s left for America’s young workforce when they’re not trained, mentored, or given “real” work to do? What happens when early-career jobs like data entry and document filing are automated by artificial intelligence?
Studies suggest that companies that invest in job training and skill development are more efficient and reap higher profit margins. But that is taking a long-term view. Most CEO’s are more interested in the profits they can make today, not worry about those of the next decade. They are not seeing their young workers as an investment in the future. Today “companies are pressured to reduce costs in order to return more money to shareholders”, to see immediate revenue growth as the only valuable metric to consider and it’s more important than the long-term value of growing an employee.
Zitron concludes that replacing humans with AI is a short sighted decision made by “myopic bean counters” who can’t see that investments in AI should instead be replaced with actual training and mentorship programs with financial rewards.
In short, we need to take a step back in history and foster and develop human ability.