AI ‘will give us productivity growth’

July 2024

PwC’s first Global AI Jobs Barometer makes for interesting reading – so how will it affect your job?

Sectors exposed to AI are seeing a huge increase in productivity, with UK employers willing to pay 14% wage premium for jobs that require AI skills, according to PwC’s inaugural 2024 Global AI Jobs Barometer.

Painting a positive picture of the impact of AI on global labour markets, the Barometer says the sectors more exposed to AI (meaning that AI can readily be used for some tasks) are seeing an almost fivefold increase in the rate of productivity growth globally.

The report, which analysed half-a-billion job adverts from 15 countries and explores AI’s impact on jobs, skills and wages, indicates the potential productivity gains for the UK through AI adoption. In the UK, the uptick in productivity in the sectors that are more exposed to AI (such as financial services, information technology and professional services) is marginally above the global average. With long-term productivity issues a hindrance to UK economic growth, AI could therefore help to bridge the gap with other nations, leading to increased prosperity and better living standards.

Rapid growth in AI jobs

Between 2012 and 2023, postings for jobs that require AI skills (those requiring technical skills such as machine learning) in the UK have grown 3.6 times faster than for all jobs, which is slightly more than the global average, where growth in jobs demanding AI skills has outpaced all jobs since 2016.

While in 2012 three in 1,000 job posts in the UK required AI skills, this jumps to nine in 1,000 jobs just over 10 years later. By comparison, in Singapore jobs that require AI skills have grown 13.5 times faster than all jobs.

While there has been rapid growth in jobs requiring AI skills, the report indicates that in sectors most exposed to AI demand for other skills could lessen. Although jobs in AI-exposed sectors are still growing, job openings in sectors less exposed to AI are growing 46% faster. The analysis highlights the need for workers to adapt and build new skills for the fast-evolving jobs market. Indeed, 64% of UK CEOs said that AI will require most of their workforce to develop new skills in the next three years, according to PwC’s 2024 CEO Survey.

Employers will pay more

As well as an increase in productivity, the report highlights the economic opportunity for workers. Jobs that require AI specialist skills carry a 14% average wage premium in the UK, with job adverts for lawyers with AI skills seeing a 27% wage premium, and database designers and administrators experiencing a 58% premium. Of the five countries analysed, the largest average wage premium is 25% in the US, followed by 14% in the UK, 11% in Canada, 7% in Singapore and 6% in Australia.

Mehdi Sahneh, Senior Economist, PwC UK, said: “Countries and sectors that have a high demand for AI skills tend to see higher wage premiums, especially if there is a scarcity of skilled professionals, whereas in areas where there is a more abundant supply of AI talent, lower premiums are more likely. Although on the surface lower wage premiums may sound less favourable, all else being equal, they suggest a balance between labour supply and demand, and could potentially foster greater AI adoption and innovation over the long term.

“It’s also positive news that increased use of AI could turn the dial on productivity in the UK. Since the financial crisis, UK productivity has trailed that of all of the G7 nations, bar Japan, growing only 2.2% on average between 2008 and 2021.

With the gap widening in recent years, AI could be the missing piece of the UK’s productivity puzzle, bringing a boost to the economy, wages and living standards.”