Discussing the Impact and Opportunity of GenAI in Workforce Development

December 27, 2023 | New Workplace Leadership | 8 min read

According to research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, at least 80% of all jobs will be influenced, changed, or augmented by generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) in some way. We need to prepare ourselves for this paradigm shift.

Recently, I was fortunate to sit with some colleagues at Skillsoft to discuss the transforming landscape of learning and the impact and opportunity of GenAI in workforce development. We explored the implications that this technology is having on how we work together, learn, upskill, reskill, and transform our skills for the future.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report revealed that 33% of all work can already be automated by artificial intelligence (AI) or other forms of mechanization or robotics. In just five years’ time, WEF anticipates this figure could rise – pretty dramatically – to 42%. That’s a nine-point increase in the automation rate over just five years!

This level of disruption calls for new strategies to address workforce development challenges. At Skillsoft, we believe that staying ahead requires continuous learning and upskilling across industries.

And this is especially true for GenAI, which has the potential to enable your workforce to become more efficient while creating new opportunities for innovation. That's why there has never been a more critical time for individuals and businesses to invest in skill transformation.

Subscribe to the Skillsoft Blog

We will email when we make a new post in your interest area.

Select which topics to subscribe to:

The Realistic and Responsible Use of AI in Business

AI is not new; it has been a hot topic for quite some time now, with many businesses exploring the ways they can leverage the technology to improve their operations. However, as with any type of technology, there are many considerations that must be taken into account before diving in.

Asha Palmer, Skillsoft’s senior vice president, compliance solutions, kicked off our recent discussion with a question: What tasks within your organization can be realistically and responsibly performed by AI? She believes that leaders’ failure to consider this question with an open mind might be a detriment to organizations.

Palmer gave a powerful example – a customer who had implemented a complete moratorium on GenAI for nine months after it became generally available. The organization soon realized that employees were still using the technology – it was just happening without their guidance. As a result, the organization had to scramble to establish governance policies and procedures with its employees after the fact.

Other organizations might be fearful of adopting GenAI for security reasons, cost or resource concerns, fear of job displacement, or even ethical considerations. “If you do not have an AI policy in your organization,” said Palmer, “you are behind.”

Do you have a GenAI policy in your organization? Here’s how to write one.So, why then, are organizations still hesitant to embrace GenAI? Perhaps it is because the possibilities of the technology overshadow its actual capabilities, said Koma Gandy, vice president, Leadership & Business solutions at Skillsoft.

Gandy warned, “It's important not to overestimate what AI can do so that we can best understand its limitations. We need to ensure that we’re using AI in realistic ways by focusing on practical benefits rather than just theoretical possibilities.”

Human judgment is still critical in tasks that require nuance. While machines may perform certain tasks more efficiently than humans, they lack the emotional intelligence and critical thinking skills necessary for complex decision-making processes. Therefore, a good place to start is to determine which tasks require human intervention and which ones can be automated through AI.

Overcoming Organizational Inertia and Fear with Skillsoft’s Training Programs

While the potential benefits of GenAI are immense, the technology also comes with its fair share of risks and challenges. The fear of losing jobs and exposing organizations to risk can create organizational inertia that hinders progress. However, with the right training programs, organizations can overcome this fear and embrace GenAI as a value-add.

As Gandy rightly pointed out, people are somewhere on the continuum between fear and fascination when it comes to AI. Skillsoft's training programs focus on practical benefits that encourage fascination rather than fear. With action verbs like “learn,” “understand,” “mitigate,” our courses empower learners to take control of their learning experience.

“We’ve been ready for this for years,” said Greg Fuller, Skillsoft’s senior director of Codecademy technology content. He was referring to how tech workers have always had solutions software ready to go. What’s changed recently is computing power – the ability to do things at scale. This development has allowed tech workers to maximize their expertise by automating repetitive tasks like copy-pasting or other mundane activities. Skillsoft’s training programs are designed to equip you with skills that will enable you to leverage this newfound power effectively.

Using GenAI to Enhance Power Skills

Fuller reiterated the importance of soft skills through the lens of tech training: “The traditional approach to tech training has focused on providing practice scenarios and labs around software-based tools. However, the tech industry has spent fewer resources equipping employees with soft skills like decision-making. There just hasn’t been a tool for that. Yet, tech workers face complex situations every day, ranging from data breaches to communication and collaboration with other teams.”

At Skillsoft, we’ve found a way to use GenAI as a training tool for power skills (what we call soft skills). Skillsoft’s CAISY Conversation AI Simulator is an innovative GenAI-based tool for simulating business and leadership conversation skills. It makes difficult work conversations easier by providing employees with an emotionally safe space to practice important conversations with an AI-powered trainer. CAISY not only plays the role of the other person within the conversation, but also provides personalized feedback and guidance on communication style to guide development.

By simulating real-life scenarios, CAISY enables learners to gain hands-on experience in decision-making processes and best practices. This ensures that they can confidently handle any situation that arises in their day-to-day work.

Another exciting aspect of CAISY is its flexibility in adapting to specific industries’ needs. Many organizations struggle with adopting training programs that meet their specific requirements due to differences in industry norms and practices. With CAISY’s customizable features, organizations can easily tailor their training programs to their own needs.

CAISY also uses data analytics to continually track learners’ progress throughout the course of the program. This helps instructors identify areas where learners may be struggling and provide targeted support where necessary.

How GenAI Enhances Learning and Communication at Skillsoft

How do other organizations incorporate GenAI into their products? Fuller said that it's not enough to simply have access to GenAI; you need people who know how to use it effectively. Without this knowledge, your organization may struggle with inefficiencies or even face security risks.

For example, the rise of GenAI has exposed a technology skill gap in the workplace. Companies across different sectors are struggling to fill vacant positions that require specialized skills, which has led to an even wider tech talent shortage. As organizations continue to adopt AI solutions, they must address the gap by upskilling their workforce.

At Skillsoft, we understand the importance of providing our learners with effective and efficient ways of acquiring knowledge. That’s why we’re exploring the potential of GenAI to enhance our training programs and improve communication between teams.

Beyond the promise of CAISY, there are many benefits of using GenAI in learning and communication. Within Skillsoft’s platform alone, organizations can:

  • Personalize content. GenAI makes it possible to provide learners with personalized content that meets their needs and preferences. By analyzing data on their past performance, interests, and goals, GenAI can suggest relevant courses and resources to help them achieve their objectives.
  • Save time. By personalizing content, Skillsoft is able to save time for both the learner and the administrator by reducing the need for manual inputting or suggestions from others. With GenAI, learners can access the content they need quickly and efficiently.
  • Improve understanding. GenAI can help make learning more palatable, understandable, and applicable to daily life by chunking down a continuum of learning into smaller pieces. It can help us sequence courses in a way that ensures learners get from start to finish in an optimal manner. As a result, we can deliver more content to our learners more quickly than ever before.
  • Communicate more effectively. GenAI can help individuals communicate better with their teams by suggesting ways to be succinct while conveying ideas effectively. Whether drafting memos or composing emails, GenAI can provide guidance on how to hit the right tone for maximum impact. This will ultimately lead to better collaboration between colleagues.
  • Automate administrative tasks. GenAI is able to automate certain administrative tasks like curriculum outlines or assessments. It takes away some of the manual work involved in developing courses or figuring out how best to sequence them so learners get what they need when they need it. This frees up time for administrators to focus on other aspects of their job.

Consider this popular proverb: “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.”

This is especially true with GenAI. By proactively establishing an AI policy for your organization – and training your employees to use the technology ethically and effectively – you are taking a stand against the fear and uncertainty that so often punctuates the conversation.

I’d encourage you to talk about GenAI in your organization. Create learning opportunities around GenAI. Put guardrails around employee usage of GenAI. And importantly, help society establish a narrative around GenAI that we can all be a part of – and doesn’t leave anyone behind.