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IBM is Pausing Hiring for Jobs AI can Fill

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna expects that about 7,800 jobs can be filled by AI in the coming years. For back-office positions, hiring is delayed or even suspended.

IBM is pushing the pause button on hiring positions it believes could be replaced by artificial intelligence. Specifically, hiring in back-office positions — such as human resources — will be deferred or delayed, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said in an interview with Bloomberg. In addition, Krishna talks about non-customer-facing positions that together account for about 26,000 employees.

Over the next five years, the CEO sees that “easily 30% of that can be replaced by AI and automation.” Converted would mean that about 7,800 jobs will be lost and replaced by some form of AI. To a large extent, this also involves not replacing positions that become available through natural wastage.

AI is causing a stir everywhere and in all sectors: many observers are concerned about the consequences on the labour market, while many companies, CEOs and entrepreneurs are just looking for opportunities. As a result, the IBM CEO is among the first to announce a major workforce strategy in response to rapidly advancing technology.

To be clear, IBM will continue to hire for software development and customer-facing roles. The company currently employs approximately 260,000 people. The layoffs announced earlier this year could reach up to 5,000 employees. Still, Krishna says in the same interview that IBM increased its workforce by about 7,000 people in the first quarter.

In the interview, Krishna clarifies that by no means all tasks and, therefore, all jobs can be replaced by artificial intelligence. But, according to the CEO, it is mainly the more mundane tasks that can be replaced. For example, he provides all kinds of certificates by the HR department or all HR processes to move an employee from one department to another.

However, other HR functions, such as evaluating workforce composition and productivity, “are unlikely to be replaced for the next 10 years,” he added.

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