A study published by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) has found AI skills and knowledge can increase a worker’s salary by as much as 40%.

The study, which examined over 1,000 skills and 25,000 workers, found AI-related knowledge on topics such as machine learning and data science increased the potential salaries workers earned.

However, the findings also examined the relationship between a skill’s value and its likelihood of being combined with other skillsets. Skills such as data science were found to be more valuable than photo-editing skills, since knowledge of data science was more likely to be combined with other high-value skillsets.

When asked about the possibility of AI replacing human workers entirely, Dr Fabian Stephany, co-author of the study and research lecturer in AI at OII, was confident AI would augment work rather than replace people.

“This [study] is one piece of evidence that suggests AI not replace people on a massive scale, but it will actually be very profitable for people to work with AI,” he said.

Whilst AI may not completely automate work, Stephany said it would instead lead to a wide-scale reskilling of workers. Skills such as machine learning, what Stephany described as “backbone” expertise for AI, are now being used in sectors outside of IT or academia. Instead, workers in the legal or design sectors were now increasingly required to understand AI.

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“Right now,” Stephany said, “we don’t see any indication that AI will lead to half of the labour force being automated away.”

However, whilst AI may not replace workers, businesses on the lookout for AI talent could soon face difficulties hiring. Around 15% of businesses said they had already implemented AI within their work, according to a 2023 GlobalData survey.

Fujitsu’s CTO Vivek Mahajan recently spoke on a future “talent crunch” that could be faced within AI due to its growing ubiquity outside of traditional IT roles after his company struggled to hire workers with AI skills.

Citing AI’s sudden and “speedy” rollout alongside the high prerequisites that workers need to gain skills in AI (such as higher education), Mahajan said AI could soon face a severe shortage of talented workers.

Dr. Stephany’s study, What is the price of a skill? The value of complementarity, can be found here.