AI likely to have 'profound' effect on graduates as entry-level jobs decline, report finds

AI in the workplace may free up graduates to focus on 'soft skills' desired by employers, researchers say

University graduates may not have as many entry-level work opportunities as use of AI expands, researchers have found. PA
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Entry-level roles could disappear in the future as the use of artificial intelligence rises, “disrupting” career pathways for university graduates, a report has indicated.

To limit the negative effects of AI, students should be given more opportunities to participate in co-curricular and extracurricular activities – such as work placements, years abroad, clubs and societies, according to a report by think tank Demos and the University of London.

Jobs “may be retooled as much as destroyed” by AI and its effect on graduates’ working lives will be “profound”, the report says.

But it adds that AI’s potential removal of the “bottom rung of the career ladder” could free up graduates to focus on “soft skills” desired by employers.

It calls on universities to consider ways of maximising co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities for all students so young people from all backgrounds are equipped for a workforce transformed by AI.

The report adds that universities should work with government to enable more short courses and flexible degrees for students.

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“There is a lot of doom-mongering about AI and technology at the moment, but we cannot put the genie back in the bottle,” Andrew O’Brien, director of policy and impact at Demos, said.

“Demos’ research has shown that providing high-quality extracurricular activities, in partnership with civil society, can provide people with the skills they need so that they can thrive, not fear the future.

“Government must take notice of these trends and ensure that we put in place the long-term funding, smart regulation and wider support so that universities can do what they do best – giving students the knowledge, skills and experience they need to be the best they can be.”

Report author Richard Brown, of the University of London, said: “We know that technology is disrupting the future of work and that AI promises more turbulence to come, but the good news is that there are practical, tangible steps that universities can take to equip their students with what they need to succeed – the human skills and judgment that will complement technology.

A Universities UK (UUK) spokeswoman said: “The potential risks and benefits of AI are still being debated and no one can deny that AI will change the ways that we work. However, this change need not be negative.

“UUK’s latest report on Jobs of the Future highlights the views of senior figures and talent acquisition specialists at the UK’s FTSE350-listed companies, and revealed that 61 per cent of them express a growing need for individuals with keen creative thinking skills in order to fully harness the potential of new AI tools.

“However future workplaces are changed by AI, it is clear that graduates and universities will play a vital role in utilising and shaping its impact.”

Updated: November 08, 2023, 12:01 AM