With every passing day, our reliance on artificial intelligence (AI) increases. As consumers, AI makes our lives easier. For businesses, AI can speed up customer service and increase sales. For workers and job seekers, many would prefer if AI never existed because they are concerned AI replaces human jobs or makes getting your foot in the door more difficult. But are those fears and prejudices warranted? Or is there an unfair stigma about AI? The reality is, when you dig deeper, when one door closes more open.
What is AI?
Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with what exactly AI is, you’re not alone.
What do Siri, Google Voice Assistant, or Alexa all have in common? They are AI. In the simplest of terms, AI is coding computers to act and think like people. Most commonly, AI systems are used to make getting information to a customer easier and faster. In 2020, TWC implemented AI to create Larry the Chat Bot to assist with unemployment claims. Larry quickly grew from answering 20 of the most common questions to over 100 and has helped millions of Texans. To date, the bot has answered over 19.5 million questions.
Misconceptions about AI and Careers
The common misconception is that AI means historically stable, good-paying jobs are going to be stolen by computers and machines. It’s true, some jobs may be replaced by AI, but that’s only looking at one side of the coin, so to speak. It’s better to think about AI as not replacing a workforce, but supporting the workforce which supports the customer.
For businesses, utilizing AI can free up staff to focus on harder tasks or provide more focused customer support. As an example, TWC utilized AI to assist tele-center staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Creating a chat bot that could answer common questions instantly and simultaneously to thousands of users helped take some of the burden off tele-center staff. This allowed staff the time to concentrate their efforts on assisting customers with more difficult or unique situations. AI was used to assist staff in helping Texans in need, not take away jobs.
For workers, the use of AI can not only remove some low-value tasks from your plate, but AI itself can actually add more jobs with higher-paying salaries. An AI system needs to be built, coded and maintained to operate as intended. And that’s only the technical side of it. There is a human side to AI too. In order for AI to know how to react and respond, humans have to teach it. Before an AI system can be launched there will need to be client relations and conversations about design. These are positions that are more people-oriented and not reliant on technical skills.
Many of these tasks can be done by workers with middle skills that require only very short-term training, certifications or education but can connect Texans to a lifetime of increased career potential and earnings.
Whatever skills you may want or need, TWC is here to help and your area Workforce Solutions Office is an excellent resource for finding local opportunities.
Be a Wizard Behind the Curtain
Behind every good AI system, there are the wizards behind the curtain. It takes a host of designers, coders, technology scientists, maintenance technicians and engineers to create, run and maintain these processes. These are in-demand, high-paying jobs and recently, TWC earmarked up to $9 million in grant funding to put more Texas workers on a path to careers in these rewarding middle skills job.
The initiative to end the middle skills gap builds on existing TWC programs and services, which are available to all Texans through https://www.twc.texas.gov/ or through 180 Workforce Solutions Centers around the state.
Call your local Workforce Solutions Center to find out what middle skills training opportunities there are in your area, and check out the free AI webinar here to see how TWC is approaching in-demand careers associated with AI.
Head Starts for Youth
The growing demand for high-skilled technical workers to fill positions associated with AI means Texas must continue to attract more students into STEM fields. It’s important to introduce students to STEM-based training at an early age to better prepare them to compete for the high demand careers of the present and future. Our specialized industries rely on TWC programs like Camp Code, Summer Earn and Learn, Explore STEM! and the Governor’s Summer Merit Program to inspire young Texans to continue their studies in science and engineering fields which gives them a head-start towards rewarding careers with competitive salaries.
AI is part of our lives and will continue to expand and grow along with technology. And while some of us may still be frightened that machines will take over and turn us into batteries, the reality of it is the more AI expands, the more high-paying, exciting career opportunities there will be in Texas. TWC supports, and will continue to support, programs that help hard-working Texans gain the middle skills they need to succeed in our fast-pace, competitive, rewarding Texas economy.
Contact your area Workforce Solutions Office to find local training opportunities to hear more about TWC’s approach to harnessing the power of AI to create more jobs for Texans, check out the free AI webinar here.