STEM Careers Are Worried About Losing Their Jobs to AI

Even scientists and engineers aren’t immune to artificial intelligence’s replacement power.

It’s no secret that artificial intelligence is a game changer in the career market, although what agent of change AI might be remains up in the air.

While assembly line workers, graphic designers, and customer service professionals rightly worried about losing their jobs to AI bots and applications, few science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career workers were vexed about AI taking over their jobs.

Until now, that is.

Christopher Pissarides, a professor of economics at the London School of Economics, says that STEM specialists should be worried about being replaced by AI.

“The skills that are needed now — to collect the data, collate it, develop it, and use it to develop the next phase of AI, or more to the point, make AI more applicable for jobs — will make the skills that are needed now obsolete because it will be doing the job,” Pissarides said in a recent interview with Time magazine. “Even though you see growth, they’re still not as numerous as might be required to have jobs for all those graduates coming out with STEM because that’s what they want to do.”

Let’s highlight some of the key findings from the study:

  • 34% of STEM professionals overall are worried about losing their jobs to AI
  • 44% of young STEM professionals are worried about losing their jobs to AI (the concern is higher for younger employees.
  • Healthcare professionals are most confident that they will remain relatively less affected due to the social skills needed for the profession and the human touch.
  • AI, robots and automation will have more impact on jobs in countries with greater amounts of income and social inequality in comparison to those with greater social equality.

As usual, cash has something to do with the AI and STEM career replacement issues. With even a modest investment in artificial intelligence, companies can play the long game and transition STEM workers out as its AI applications grow more productive and powerful.

“This demand for these new IT skills, they contain their seeds of self-destruction,” Pissarides noted.

A Glimpse of Positivity

The data doesn’t exactly clarify how many jobs will be displaced by AI and in what career sectors. A recent Goldman Sachs study showed artificial intelligence will replace about 25% of current workplace talent while about 65% of career professionals can expect their jobs to be “modified” by AI in some capacity.

The good news for workers is that, historically, jobs eliminated or curbed by new technologies usually result in more jobs down the line. According to US Census figures, almost two-thirds of workforce talent in 2023 are employed in jobs that didn’t exist in 1940.

That doesn’t seem to pacify a growing number of STEM professionals worried about AI taking their jobs.

“This fear is borne out in our ‘How the STEM World Evolves’ study, which finds that more than a third of STEM professionals across the globe are worried about losing their jobs to AI and automation,” states Sthree, a technology industry recruiting firm. “Delving deeper, it’s clear that the dance between AI and employment is reshaping our professional realm.”

It’s up to management to ensure there’s a positive balance between what AI and STEM workers each bring to the table.

“To capitalize on its potential, businesses need to take a proactive approach, upskilling and retraining workforces to secure a future in which they can thrive,” Sthree reports.

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