AI jobs climb and see up to 25% wage premium

Sectors more exposed to AI are experiencing almost five times (4.8x) higher growth in labour productivity, according to PwC’s inaugural 2024 Global AI Jobs Barometer.

The report, which analysed over half a billion job ads from 15 countries, suggests that AI could allow many nations to break out of persistent low productivity growth, generating economic development, higher wages, and enhanced living standards.

The report finds that for every job posting requiring AI specialist skills (i.e., machine learning) in 2012, there are now seven job postings. PwC research also finds that growth in jobs demanding AI skills has outpaced all jobs since 2016, with postings for jobs requiring AI skills growing 3.5x faster than for all jobs.

The findings also highlight economic opportunity for labour forces: jobs that require AI skills carry up to a 25% average wage premium in some markets.

Skills sought by employers are changing much faster in occupations more exposed to AI, with old skills disappearing – and new skills appearing – in job ads at a 25% higher rate than in occupations less exposed to AI. To stay relevant in these occupations, workers will need to demonstrate or acquire new skills.

As questions abound around the technology’s impact on everything from job security to long-term business viability, the findings highlight positive news, even for workers in sectors most exposed to AI. The findings also reflect a good news story for workers and the global economy in which AI-enabled workers are more productive and more valuable, opening the door to rising prosperity for workers and nations. Like past technological revolutions from electricity to computers, AI is changing what it takes for workers to succeed – and those who adapt may enjoy vast new opportunities.

Carol Stubbings, Global Markets and Tax & Legal Services (TLS) Leader, PwC UK, says: “AI is transforming the labour market globally and presents good news for a global economy hindered by deep economic challenges and concerns around long-term business viability. For many economies experiencing labour shortages and low productivity growth, the findings highlight optimism around AI with the technology representing an opportunity for economic development, job-creation, and the creation of new industries entirely. However, the findings show that workers will need to build new skills and organisations will need to invest in their AI strategies and people if they are to turbocharge their development and ensure they are fit for the AI age.”

Near fivefold productivity growth in sectors more exposed to AI

The findings paint a positive picture of the impact of AI on labour markets and productivity. Sectors most exposed to AI – financial services, information technology, and professional services – are experiencing nearly five times higher labour productivity growth than sectors less exposed to AI.

Jobs that require AI skills carry significant wage premiums

Across the five major labour markets for which wage data is available (US, UK, Canada, Australia and Singapore), jobs that require AI specialist skills carry a significant wage premium (up to 25% on average in the US), underlining the value of these skills to companies. Across industries (in the US for example), this can range from 18% for accountants, 33% for financial analysts, 43% for sales and marketing managers, to 49% for lawyers. While the wage premium differs by market, overwhelmingly this is higher in all markets analysed.

AI penetration is accelerating, particularly in knowledge work sectors

The study finds that knowledge work sectors are seeing the most rapid growth in the share of roles requiring AI skills. This includes financial services (2.8x higher share of jobs requiring AI skills vs other sectors), professional services (3x higher), and information & communication (5x higher).

No going back to yesterday’s jobs markets: the skills-building imperative

Companies, workers, and policymakers share responsibility for helping workers build the skills to succeed in a fast-changing jobs market. Skills demanded by employers in occupations more exposed to AI are changing at a 25% higher rate than in less exposed occupations. 69% of CEOs expect AI will require new skills from their workforce, rising to 87% of CEOs who have already deployed AI, according to PwC’s 27th Annual Global CEO Survey 2024.

Pete Brown, Global Workforce Leader, PwC UK, adds: “Businesses and governments around the world will need to ensure they are adequately investing in the skills required for both their people and organisations if they are to thrive in a global economy and labour market being transformed by AI. Equally, there is tremendous opportunity for people, organisations, and economies with expertise in new and emerging technologies such as AI. Ensuring a skills-first approach to recruitment, as well as continued investment in workforce upskilling, is imperative as no industry or market will remain immune to the impact of AI’s technological and economic transformation.”

Scott Likens, Global AI and Innovation Technology Leader, PwC US, concluded: “AI provides much more than efficiency gains. AI offers fundamentally new ways of creating value. In our work with clients, we see companies using AI to amplify the value their people can deliver. We don’t have enough software developers, doctors, or scientists to create all the code, healthcare, and scientific breakthroughs the world needs. There is a nearly limitless demand for many things if we can improve our ability to deliver them – and limitless opportunity for organisations and individuals that invest in learning and applying the technology.”