Published on 14th December 2023
At its core, AI is simply a tool that, when used ethically and effectively, has vast promise for creating opportunities for people and businesses alike. With the assistance of AI, workers can better develop skills throughout their career, while the currently untapped skills of countless workers looking to enter the workforce are recognised.
The HR services industry plays a central role in contributing to the global economy and social fabric by ensuring that people are at the heart of labour markets. Far from viewing AI as a threat to jobs, we see it as a job creator and an equalizer throughout society. With the help of AI the labour market can be opened further to underrepresented groups, creating greater diversity, gender equity, inclusion, and a more responsive approach to the ways people want to work and live.
Through the use of AI, the future of work is bright. However, to make that future a reality, fair regulation is needed to allow for innovation and experimentation. As the European Union (EU) finalises its discussions on the AI Act, members of the World Employment Confederation (WEC) ’s)’sC’sE’sW’sare becoming increasingly concerned that misguided and possibly harmful regulation will not only slow innovative development but could close the door to the possibilities that AI holds for workers and employers.
What is clear is that AI as a whole cannot be simply categorised. With the EU leaning toward classifying AI in employment services as high-risk, WEC members view such a position as unwarranted and detrimental to the industry. It is clear that AI use within and across industries differs a great deal. From chatbots, ranking, to training and skilling, having a single risk category for all profiles means no risk distinction can be made.
Furthermore, with the scope of AI being incredibly broad, the HR industry is focused on taking a responsible and narrow approach to its use. Specifically, the industry welcomes polices that require AI vendors to prove their algorithms used to make hiring decisions are free of bias. To reassure policy makers, WEC members are already carrying out algorithmic risk assessments to align with the possible final text of the AI Act to ensure that people’s fundamental rights are protected.
When relying on staffing databases to develop AI algorithms, key to best matching candidates with jobs, major staffing companies already operate under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules and expect those same conditions to transfer to the use of AI. Beyond data protection, WEC members are looking forward to receiving formal technical references and checklists for the development and use of algorithms together with the opportunity of using regulatory sandboxes to test them in safe, yet innovative environments.
The introduction of AI in our lives is no longer a question of if and when, but of how best it can be utilized. With the ethical development of AI use within the HR services industry, the global and European labour and skills shortage can be finally addressed. Through the use of AI our industry will be better adept at identifying and matching the skills required for today, while improving the kinds of training programmes needed to help workers upskill and transition to tomorrow’s green economy.
In order for AI to become part of the answer to filling today’s labour gaps and preparing the workforce of the future, it must be guided by a human-centred approach, and those people behind its use must be in control to safely experiment to avert unexpected harm while striving to improve the lives of individuals and society.
As outlined in the WEC Code of Ethical Principles in the use of Artificial Intelligence facilitate their journey through the world of work, supporting both workers and employers. When applied to HR services, AI can make a significant contribution to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout Europe and around the world and we hope the EU AI Act will help make that a reality.
First published by EurActiv, November 2023.