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News » AI key to productivity, but workforce unprepared – Mercer study 

AI key to productivity, but workforce unprepared – Mercer study 

Photo from Mercer’s 2024 Global Talent Trends

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES — Executives are betting big on artificial intelligence (AI) to drive productivity, but the workforce skills gap threatens that vision, according to Mercer’s 2024 Global Talent Trends Study

The research from over 12,000 participants across various sectors reveals that 40% of executives predict AI will deliver productivity boosts exceeding 30%. 

However, nearly three in five (58%) believe technology is advancing faster than their ability to retrain employees, while 47% feel confident they can meet current talent demands with their existing workforce models.

“Raising productivity through AI is top of mind for executives but the answer does not lie in technology alone,” said Kate Bravery, Mercer’s Global Talent Advisory Leader and author of the study.

“Greater workforce productivity requires intentional, human-centric work design.”

The study highlights challenges in finding a sustainable path forward. Three-quarters (74%) of executives worry about their talent’s ability to pivot, and only 28% of human resources (HR) leaders are confident they can make human-machine collaboration a success.

Mercer emphasizes the critical role of HR in navigating these challenges. “There is an increased imperative for HR to work in tandem with risk and digital leaders to usher in the necessary change at the pace required.”

A CEO survey by edX and Workplace Intelligence revealed that 47% of the workforce is unprepared for an AI-driven future, while talent and technology solutions provider Harvey Nash said that a majority of global tech leaders feel unready to meet the demands of advanced AI systems.

With 23% of roles anticipated to change in the next five years, the World Economic Forum warns that the real risk is between those who adapt and those who don’t, as AI-empowered employees are set to become significantly more productive. 

“It’s not that the worker gets replaced by just a robot or a machine in most cases, especially for desk jobs, it’s that some better or more educated worker can do that job because they can be twice as productive or three times as productive,” said Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi.


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