The Last Word September/October 2023: Alan Furley

The AI talent conundrum

I was recently struck by two conversations around AI at work. The first was with a friend who works in public sector communication. She was having to write an education programme for elderly people to help them achieve better independence in assisted living.

As a project type they had not worked on before, it had been hard to get into the mindset of the audience and translate some of the finer calls to action.

My first response was: “Why don’t you ChatGPT it?” This took them aback. “No!” was the reply. The reason being they felt they would be ‘cheating’ the audience, or maybe even themselves, if they relied on AI.

The second conversation was with fellow business owners with a rough outline of: “There are going to be two types of businesses in the future – those that have fully adopted AI, and those that have not.”

This may sound like a pretty obvious statement. After all, read the headlines, and it appears as if business is hurtling toward a Brave New World, but dig a little deeper in many organisations and tech uptake feels much slower.

The two things together prompted questions: Whose role actually is it to push AI in the workplace? And how does this affect the employee (and candidate) mindset longer term?

As recruiters, we are too aware of the fact there are not enough people around with the right skills at present. Employers are furiously trying to sell themselves as progressive, tech-savvy and purpose-led, in an effort to ensure they are getting the people who can do the job today – and tomorrow.

This creates a seller’s market. People with the desired credentials can dictate terms at interview stage. But what about the employee already in position who wants to create a more AI-focused workplace where none exists – possibly for future employability?

How do you navigate this for future markets – and particularly if you look at the difference between private and public sectors?

Of course, AI application remains in a state of flux itself. In companies that have not previously required significant tech expertise, decisions are needed on how employees and the wider business can benefit from specific software.

But for the employee who is way ahead of their own organisation in the use of AI, and not getting what they need from their employer in terms of developing the use of generative tech – what choice do they have apart from to look elsewhere?

So those who are not pushing AI actively at leadership level risk losing talent very quickly in the coming years. How can they effectively listen to their people who may be developing solutions that can be easily deployed to competitors when someone leaves?

Of course, recruitment still has a long way to go also to create level playing fields in the race to AI, too. A recent study found that job applicants perceive algorithmic decision-making in AI-driven recruitment less fair than methods with full human involvement.

It is this kind of insight that leads me back to the beginning, and asking: “How do I know who is really pushing AI at ISL Talent – and are we providing the right environment for them to flourish for the benefit of all?”

A question not even ChatGPT can answer – yet.

Alan Furley is CEO at ISL Recruitment


My Brilliant Recruitment Career: Zach Harris

What was your earliest dream job?

The appliance of science in assessment

Recruiters have always prided themselves on being able to predict how a candidate will perform in

IT/Telecoms, HR 12 September 2023

11 most influential in-house recruiters

It’s hard to believe the 11 Most Influential In-House Recruiters’ showcase is in its 11th edition

12 September 2023

Soundbites: September/October 2023

Matt Fryer

12 September 2023