Professional associations can help the youth overcome AI anxiety

By Joanna Baidu | Jun 10, 2023
Joanna Baidu, the Youth Lead, Sub-Saharan Africa, Project Management Institute. [File, Standard]

From its Davos debut in January 2023, ChatGPT took seven days to hit the one million user mark. According to a UBS report, it took Facebook 10 months and Twitter 25 months for the same.

The conversational AI model ChatGPT, a nascent piece of technology then, is now being referenced as the new boogeyman. It’s not difficult to see why.

Concerns around the use of AI, from its potential misuse and ethical implications to the balance of innovation against disruption, have been swirling since ChatGPT went mainstream.

There is great unease at the thought of AI replacing jobs.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts that 300 million jobs will be lost or degraded by AI. The World Economic Forum projects that the global economy will shed 14 million jobs in the next five years, with firms boosting the adoption of AI. Students across various educational institutions have good reasons to be anxious. According to the Institute of the Future, 85 per cent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet!

While it is easy to speculate that job automation will make them obsolete, it is with no certainty that we can make any assumptions.

An Elon Musk tweet from 2018 balances the argument. “Excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated,” he tweeted. There is no denying that AI will impact the future of work. Tech innovations of the past decade have already made bank tellers, cashiers, telemarketers and travel agents relics of the past.

Generative AI holds the potential to take over segments of marketing, copywriting, design, customer support and legal work, among others. It remains aware of its limitations, though, and believes that “jobs that require a high degree of creativity or interpersonal skills are less likely to be replaced by AI.” These skills are innate to project managers.

PMI’s Talent Gap predicts an increase in the number of jobs requiring project management-oriented skills due to economic growth and retirement rates. These trends will create a need for 25 million new project professionals by 2030. If the roles are not filled, it could result in a possible loss of up to $345.5 billion (Sh51.75) trillion in global GDP.

It is prudent that the youth commit to lifelong learning and upskilling. Joining a professional association is good for students and early career professionals.

Staying informed about trends, access to learning resources, and being intentional about professional development will give the youth the head start to prepare for the future of work. 

 -The writer is the Youth Lead, Sub-Saharan Africa, Project Management Institute 

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