AI’s Transformation of Career Preparation

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Wednesday, July 5, 2023
By Juliet Jones-Vlasceanu
Photo by istock/Kudryavtsev Pavel
The swift adoption of artificial intelligence requires that our students achieve what is being called “the new career readiness.”
  • Artificial intelligence is reshaping jobs in technical and nontechnical fields alike, as more employers adopt AI tools to reduce costs and increase revenues.
  • In such a rapidly changing landscape, students will need to learn the skills of new career readiness, especially self-knowledge and self-efficacy.
  • Business schools can promote career-ready skills by offering students more opportunities for skills development, professional development, and experiential learning.

We are watching in real time as businesses adopt artificial intelligence (AI) in ways that are revolutionizing industries. It is hard to believe that ChatGPT 3.5 was released to the nontechnical public just eight months ago, in November 2022. Just like that, AI became more accessible and appropriate for a wide range of applications. The demand for AI skills is no longer limited to technical occupations such as machine learning engineers or software developers. In a tight job market, many businesses whose operations rely heavily on knowledge work have embraced AI to cut costs and increase revenue.

Amidst these changes, we all must understand the implications that AI’s expanded use has for the future of work. We must consider how AI’s adoption will affect each job function. To thrive in the job market, learners will need to develop what many are calling the new career readiness, which goes beyond developing skills in résumé-writing and interviewing to focusing on foundational self-development.

AI’s Impact on Costs and Revenues by Function

To understand AI’s impacts more fully on the labor market, let’s look at insights from two recent, excellent resources. The first is the 2023 AI Index Report, just released by the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI). The second is a March 2023 study titled “GPTs are GPTs: An Early Look at the Labor Market Impact Potential of Large Language Models,” co-authored by OpenAI researchers.

The Stanford report highlights the significant impact that AI is having on costs and revenues across business functions. Citing a survey by McKinsey & Company, the report points to the portion of respondents who noted that AI adoption has led to cost reductions and revenue increases in the following functional areas:

Discipline   Respondents Reporting That  
AI Has Reduced Costs 
  Respondents Reporting That  
AI Has Increased Revenues
Human Resources 29 percent 58 percent
Marketing and Sales 28 percent 70 percent
Risk 43 percent 48 percent
Strategy and Corporate Finance 45 percent 65 percent
Supply Chain Management 52 percent 59 percent

It’s important to note that McKinsey conducted this survey before ChatGPT 3.5 was released—these percentages would likely be higher today. With these kinds of numbers, no business can afford to ignore the potential of integrating AI into their operations.

More Mentions of AI in Job Postings

Our students also will see AI’s growing influence in the job postings they encounter in their career searches. They will find that more employers are seeking candidates who are proficient in AI-related skills—and who can apply these skills in fields other than technology.

According to a Lightcast report highlighted in the 2023 AI Index, U.S. employers are looking for workers with AI-related skills across almost every sector for which there is data. The only exceptions are in agriculture, forestry, fishery, and hunting. On average, the number of AI-related job postings increased from 1.7 percent in 2021 to 1.9 percent in 2022.

Again, this report is based on data collected before the public release of ChatGPT 3.5. According to a May 2023 report by the World Economic Forum, companies predict that AI will disrupt 44 percent of workers’ core skills.

Occupational “Exposure” to LLMs

In the March 2023 study referenced above, OpenAI researchers have created a new rubric that generates “exposure percentages” for different occupations. An exposure percentage indicates the share of an occupation’s tasks that is exposed to—that is, can be completed or aided by—GPT or GPT-powered software driven by large language models, or LLMs.

This rubric defines “exposure” as the percentage of tasks in an occupation in which AI reduces completion time by at least 50 percent. Interestingly, the study’s co-authors used both GPT-4 and human labor analysts to predict the level of an occupation’s exposure as a way to measure and improve the rubric over time.

Overall, the study concluded that 19 percent of jobs now have at least 50 percent of their tasks exposed to LLMs (that is, to GPT-4). Many of these occupations are in business-related fields. Below are a few of the exposure percentage estimations made by human labor analysts:

Occupation Human Labor Analysts’ Predictions
of Percentage of AI Exposure
Survey Researchers 75 percent to 84.4 percent
Public Relations Specialists 66.7 percent to 80.6 percent
Mathematicians 100 percent
Tax Preparers 100 percent
Financial Qualitative Analysts 100 percent

According to the OpenAI researchers’ rubric, each of the following occupational areas are at least 50 percent exposed:

  • Data processing and hosting services
  • Insurance services
  • Credit intermediation
  • Securities commodity contracts and other financial investing
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services
  • The work of monetary authorities, such as national central banks
  • Services within wholesale electronic markets, including services delivered by both agents and brokers

The OpenAI researchers “estimate that GPTs and GPT-powered software are able to save workers a significant amount of time completing a large share of their tasks.” But they also point out that their estimate “does not necessarily suggest that their tasks can be fully automated by these technologies” (emphasis added). The study stresses that AI’s impact extends beyond specific job roles—it is reshaping entire occupations.

In this climate, the most successful learners will be those who consider how AI will disrupt their prospective careers and who seek to acquire the skills that will remain relevant in an evolving labor market.

Building the Right Foundation

Historically, career readiness in business school programs has focused on tactical skills such as résumé-writing and interviewing skills. While these skills are still critical, they are insufficient. As business educators know better than most, emphasizing tactics while ignoring strategy is like trying to build a house without a foundation.

In this case, the new career readiness provides that foundation by emphasizing self-development, self-knowledge, and self-efficacy. These are the skills that will determine the strength of all other career competencies. By focusing on such foundational skills, educators can fuel learners’ curiosity and build learners’ confidence in their ability to succeed in the future job market.

By focusing on skills that promote new career readiness, educators can build learners’ confidence in their ability to succeed in the future job market.

For example, the ability of learners to successfully interview, work with diverse groups, and communicate their value in their résumés depends on their self-development skills. The most successful applicants, employees, and business owners know who they are, how to apply their unique qualities to career decisions, and how to adapt to change.

The good news is that there are research-based career competency frameworks available that are specific to higher education. Educators can refer to these guidelines as they integrate these foundational skills into professional development curricula.

Guidance From NACE and AACSB

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) provides an excellent research-based framework for career readiness. NACE defines career readiness as “a foundation from which to demonstrate requisite core competencies that broadly prepare the college student for success in the workplace and lifelong career management.”

NACE lists eight career readiness competencies, along with related behaviors, that are “a set of skills and attributes college students can develop to launch successful professional careers.” Of these, the skill of Career and Self-Development is viewed as essential. According to NACE, one demonstrates this competency by “proactively develop[ing] oneself and one’s career through continual personal and professional learning, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, navigation of career opportunities, and networking to build relationships within and without one’s organization.”

In business education, Standard 4 of AACSB’s 2020 Accreditation Standards provides additional guidance related to teaching self-development skills as part of a professional development curriculum.

Section 4.1, for example, requires a school to deliver “content that is current, relevant, forward-looking, [and] globally oriented” and offer programs that “reflect current and innovative business theories and practices.” To meet this standard, administrators could submit evidence of the content and learning experiences they provide that help students foster lifelong learning mindsets and use existing and emerging technologies. They also could submit narratives that illustrate how their learners can demonstrate these skills.

Section 4.3 asks a school to have “an innovative approach to curriculum … that demonstrates currency, creativity, and forward-thinking” and “promotes a lifelong learning mindset in learners, including creativity, intellectual curiosity, and critical and analytical thinking.” Here, administrators could document how the school’s curricular innovations foster career readiness and encourage students to take responsibility for lifelong learning.

Self-Knowledge and Self-Efficacy

When schools offer ample opportunities for students to build self-development skills through professional development activities and projects, they make it more likely that learners will develop the career competencies emphasized by NACE and AACSB. It’s especially important that students build two skills in particular:

Self-knowledge, or “I know who I am,” involves reflecting on and understanding one’s personality, interests, strengths, weaknesses, and values. It also means remaining curious about how one is shaped over time by life events, work experience, and continuing education. 

By encouraging learners to reflect on and apply their unique characteristics to their work, educators can develop professionals who are not only successful, but also fulfilled in their chosen paths. A strong sense of self enables learners to adapt more easily to change and seize opportunities that align with their unique skills and interests.

Self-efficacy is more than possessing confidence or “faking it until you make it.” It’s the recognition that one can use the best information available to make confident decisions.

Self-efficacy, or “I know I can adapt,” refers to the belief in one’s ability to perform and succeed in various situations. Self-efficacy is more than possessing confidence or “faking it until you make it.” In the career development context, it’s the recognition that one can make “good bets”—that is, use the best information available to make confident career and education decisions.

Learners’ self-efficacy can be positively influenced by a range of activities, including classroom and work experiences, interactions with faculty and advisors, and social support. Professional development programs can promote self-efficacy through skills development, experiential learning, mentorship, and faculty feedback.

Graduating Career-Ready Students

Given AI’s impact on costs and revenues, employers across most industries will continue to adopt AI tools. They increasingly will view AI as a way to optimize the work of their employees, in both technical and knowledge-based positions.

Where learners are concerned, the extent to which jobs are being enhanced or replaced by AI will be a moving target. Learners are unlikely to know how AI will impact the jobs they are targeting while they are still enrolled in their business programs. That’s why our programs must emphasize new career readiness.

Business educators can boost learners’ career readiness by:

  • Incorporating self-development skill-building into required professional development courses.
  • Viewing new career readiness as a responsibility and opportunity for all departments—not just career services.
  • Offering students career exploration activities such as working with academic advisors, participating in mentorship programs, and developing self-knowledge through self-assessments.
  • Encouraging learners to engage in experiential learning, job shadowing, informational interviewing, hands-on projects, and collaborations with industry professionals.

If possible, business schools can also include AI-related activities. For instance, they can:

  • Assign learners to research, debate, and reflect on AI’s impact on their future career fields, including areas such as accounting, management, and marketing.
  • Ask learners to examine how jobs that interest them might be exposed to GPT technology.
  • Teach AI-related skills like prompt engineering, data analytics, machine learning, and AI ethics.

As AI continues to transform industries, business careers, and the job market, achieving the new career readiness becomes critical for business learners. By incorporating self-knowledge and self-efficacy into professional development curricula, faculty and advisors will build their students’ foundations for lifelong career success and prepare them to navigate accelerating change.

Juliet Jones-Vlasceanu
President and CEO, Career Key Inc.
The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
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