Generative AI: What does this mean for jobs in IT?
When Bill Gates was asked in 2016, which three areas the students of today should focus on to be future-proofed, he said economics, mathematics and computer science. Just over five years later, generative AI is changing the paradigm again, where for people in IT Development, they are not just the disruptors, but also becoming the disrupted.
Languages such as Python and PHP are built within open-source libraries, where generative AI is able to parse entire directories and write code, on command, for any type of function. What does this mean? Well, for businesses reliant on huge teams of developers working on open-source languages, there is a real question about long-term viability. Add to this the fact that even with languages based on proprietary frameworks, such as Java, as this change takes hold, it will become inevitable for licensing agreements to start encompassing the ability for Banks to use generative AI on those code bases. Put simply, no developers will be immune from this shift.
Generative AI is not perfect, so does need to be curated, but curating code to make it fit for purpose is significantly less time consuming than preparing it. Factor that in the UK, the largest professional area of jobs is for IT, accounting for over 20% of all 40k+ jobs posted, where Developers make up the single largest category, averaging 25% of all vacancies. So what we are talking about, is as generative AI takes hold, the numbers of developers being employed will shrink. How much by, is anyone’s guess, but logically this change is now inevitable. Hence I am not expecting development vacancies to return to the levels seen in 2022 ever. Indeed, when analysing the annual totals for IT vacancies, what we see is that 2023 is on track to see the lowest number of development vacancies than any year going back to 2018. Quantitative tightening and the impact on IT has had an impact for sure, but the structural change caused by generative AI is also real, and happening.
As a final thought on this point, the change happening will also have a profound impact on the outsourcing industry. For companies offering IT Development outsourcing services, this has acted as one of the most effective ways of channelling money and value due to variances in local costs of living. Equally, the implications of generative AI is that this coding will be increasingly automated, where for many businesses, it may be that they start by cutting back not on their Lead IT developers who can pull together, analyse, curate and upload code, but outsourced developers instead.
Nonetheless, where one door closes, another opens. Generative AI, by default, is going to need greater IT involvement in the following areas:
- Developers who specialize in AI. Currently a small niche, but expect this to grow. I anticipate AI Developers becoming the new rockstars of the IT world, as the technology becomes commoditized, every major company will start to want their own proprietary AI systems. A super change about to happen.
- People working with Data generally. AI is highly dependent on access to data and clean data sources. People therefore skilled in this area will become increasingly in demand as businesses look to overhaul legacy data capture processes to improve them, now there is a real need and value for doing so.
- Cyber Security. AI is going to lead to ever increased threats to business. Especially as the geopolitical situation becomes ever more unstable, People working in Cyber Security are going to become ever more in demand.
The data referenced above has been sourced from Vacancy Analytics, a cutting-edge Business Intelligence tool that tracks recruitment industry trends and identifies emerging hotspots. With 17 years of experience, we have a deep understanding of market activities in the UK and globally.
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