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A global study published this week by ServiceNow in collaboration with Pearson finds that, even with advances in artificial intelligence (AI), demand for additional workers will increase substantially over the next five years, with 1 million additional workers needed in the U.S. alone.

The projections are based on a set of machine learning algorithms applied to labor data such as census records and job boards, and the analysis covers 1,400 occupations in Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom (UK) and U.S. – broken down into 5,600 job functions that span 80,000 tasks. With the notable exceptions of Japan and Germany, because of aging populations, the total workforce in each country is expected to increase over the next year to meet economic growth projections, the report finds.

For example, the U.S. would need, without AI, to add 11.22 million people to the workforce over five years to support this growth rate to sustain a 2.1% economic growth rate. Pearson estimates AI will be able to do the work equivalent to 12.26 million full-time employees. However, an additional 2.04 million technology jobs will be needed to implement and maintain emerging technologies.

The report concludes that rather than eliminating jobs, AI will enable countries to sustain growth rates that in the absence of AI would be unsustainable – simply because there are not enough workers available.

Additionally, advances in AI are likely to have a varying impact across different vertical industries, notes John Rogers, a vice president for Pearson. For example, the report says there will be a decline in the number of workers needed in the financial services and retail sectors that will be offset by increases across the telecommunications, media and technology sectors. “Retail takes a shellacking,” says Rogers.

In the technology sector, specifically, the report projects there will be a 39% increase in workers over the next five years in the U.S. alone. In addition, the report predicts there will be a need for 67,100 additional technical project managers over the next five years, along with a need for more than 168,000 additional systems software developers. In all, 1.76 million new technology workers will be needed by 2028 in the U.S., totaling 6.23 million IT jobs across all industries.

Overall, the projected economic growth of thriving industries provides enough IT job opportunities to counteract decreases in general headcount caused by automation, according to the report.

In addition, workers will be able to perform additional tasks as other tasks are offloaded to AI agents. For example, system administrators have a potential to save nearly 14 hours a week.

It’s hard to predict exactly how much productivity might be gained because of AI, but there is no doubt that as the large language models (LLMs) used to drive generative AI become larger, they will gain more advanced reasoning capabilities. The issue that organizations will encounter is that AI models surface probabilistic recommendations based on the data that has been exposed to them. There will always be a need for humans to supervise that output, especially when the outcome desired needs to be consistently the same every time a task is performed.

The challenge now is determining how best to operationalize generative AI across a wide range of workflows at a time when the overall size of the workforce isn’t growing fast enough to keep pace with the needs to continue to grow the global economy.