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On Wednesday, CNBC held its At Work Talent & HR: Building the Workforce of the Future Conference in New York. Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO (also appointed to Trump’s American Workforce Policy Board) had a discussion around several strategies and announcements regarding job change due to AI and IBM’s predictive attrition AI.

Rometty shared details about an AI that IBM HR department has filed a patent for, as first reported by CNBC. The AI is developed with Watson (IBM’S Q&A AI), for “predictive attrition Program”, which can predict at 95% of accuracy about which employees are about to quit. It will also prescribe remedies to managers for better employee engagement.  The AI retention tool is part of IBM products designed to transform the traditional approach to HR management. Rometty also mentioned that since IBM has implemented AI more widely, it has been able to reduce the size of its global human resources department by 30 percent.

Rometty states that AI will be effective at tasks where HR departments and corporate managers are not very effective. It will keep employees on a clear career path and will also help identify their skills.

Rometty mentions that many companies fail to be 100% transparent with the employees regarding their individual career path and growth which is a major issue. But, IBM AI will be able to better understand the data patterns and adjacent skills, which in turn, will help with identifying an individual’s strength. “We found manager surveys were not accurate. Managers are subjective in ratings. We can infer and be more accurate from data”, said Rometty.


IBM also eradicated the annual performance review method. “We need to bring AI everywhere and get rid of the [existing] self-service system,” Rometty said. This is because AI will now help the IBM employees better understand which programs they need to get growth in their career.

Also, poor performance is no longer a problem as IBM is using “pop-up” solution centers that help managers seek the expected and better performance from their employees.

I expect AI to change 100 percent of jobs within the next five to 10 years,” said Rometty.

The need for “skill revolution” has already been an ongoing topic of discussion in different organizations and institutions across the globe, as AI keeps advancing. For instance, the Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, gave a warning, last year, that the UK needs to skill up overall and across different sectors (tech, health, finance, et al) as up to 15 million jobs in Britain are at stake. This is because artificial intelligence is replacing a number of jobs which were earlier a preserve of humans.

But, Rometty has a remedy to prevent this “technological unemployment” in the future. She says, “to get ready for this paradigm shift companies have to focus on three things: retraining, hiring workers that don’t necessarily have a four-year college degree and rethinking how their pool of recruits may fit new job roles”.

IBM also plans to invest $1 billion in training workers for “new collar” jobs, for workers with tech-skills will be hired without a four-year college degree. These “new collar” jobs could include working at a call center, app development, or a cyber-analyst at IBM via P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) program. P-TECH is a six-year-long course that starts with high school and involves an associate’s degree.

Other measures by IBM include CTA apprenticeship Coalition program, which is aimed at creating thousands of new apprenticeships in 20 states in the US. These apprenticeships come with frameworks for over 15 different roles across fields including software engineering, data science and analytics, cybersecurity, creative design, and program management.

As far as employers are concerned, Rometty advises to “bring consumerism into the HR model. Get rid of self-service, and using AI and data analytics personalize ways to retrain, promote and engage employees. Also, move away from centers of excellence to solution centers”.

For more information, check out the official conversation with Ginni Rometty at CNBC @Work Summit.

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