How AI has become the new Excel for graduating college students

Jan 24, 2024 9:00:36 PM


Microsoft Excel has often been touted as a mandatory skill for college students upon graduation in the digital era, with various industries across the globe requiring potential candidates to have a basic understanding of the program. Today, that requirement for consideration is beginning to shift to a more advanced technology that’s reshaping almost every business sector: artificial intelligence (AI).

Given the increasing prominence and versatility of AI systems in education, like ChatGPT-4 or BARD, the need for proficiency in using AI at school and work has transformed from a niche requirement into a core competency, reshaping the future of hiring and redefining the skill set expected of today’s workforce.

AI Integration Across Industries

From healthcare and finance to manufacturing and marketing, countless industries are undergoing profound, breakthrough transformations due to business operations integrating AI. With research showing that half of CEOs are actively looking to implement AI along with their products and services (IBM), the demand for professionals with a proficient understanding of the latest LLM programs and AI-related skills is only increasing, regardless of the sector. Much like Microsoft Excel, AI is becoming an indispensable tool for companies to leverage, which has challenged traditional job criteria and signaled a paradigm shift in the skills most valued today.

Nurturing AI Literacy in Students

The increase in demand for students to be skilled in AI isn’t just a passing trend but a fundamental shift from work to school, demanding our society's attention. According to Morgan Stanley, AI will affect 40% of the workforce in the next three years.

Even though students and teachers increasingly use AI tools like ChatGPT, our education sector is behind in adopting and integrating the rapidly spreading technology to prepare their students for an AI-driven future. Research shows that three out of four teachers familiar with AI believe that students need to know how to use the advancing technology in a professional setting to succeed, highlighting the importance of fostering AI literacy from an early age.

Users of today’s generative AI models must contend with the challenge of understanding and dealing with “hallucinations,” where the AI model generates incorrect or nonsensical information while sounding confident and plausible. We must be aware of these limitations, evaluate the information provided critically, and use these tools as aids rather than definitive sources. Companies offering AI Tools for learning—such as Khan Academy, Sizzle AI, and OpenAI—include reminders to ensure users are aware of mistakes AI can make.

As AI technology evolves, so will the strategies to mitigate challenges like “hallucinations.” For the foreseeable future, focusing on AI literacy and understanding its limitations is critical to benefit from it.

Future-Proofing Careers

A survey from Amazon found that 75% of employers looking for AI-qualified talent can’t find enough candidates.

Acquiring AI skills isn’t only essential to gain a competitive edge in today’s job market; it's a form of career-proofing. As industries continue to value professionals who can navigate and leverage AI's power, students proficient in AI-related skills will ensure their careers are resilient and provide long-term value in the ever-changing job market. And because AI applications are so versatile and ever-present across industries, AI proficiency will soon no longer be seen as a specialized skill but a core requirement to keep up with the rapidly changing job market.

Looking Ahead

As AI permeates every facet of our rapidly evolving world, the skill requirements for high school and college students to ensure they are ready to embark on their careers have significantly shifted.

Companies are laser-focused on the value of implementing AI, and we’ll soon see more businesses exit from the experimentation phase and look to accelerate how they can further adopt AI in business strategies. The urgency for educational institutions to prioritize AI education is evident, as we must ensure that graduating students possess the skills required to thrive in an AI-driven future.

AI proficiency is not simply a skill but a transformative force that will continue to shape the future of technology and redefine the capabilities of the modern workforce.

Jerome Pesenti

Jerome Pesenti is the CEO and founder of Sizzle. Previously, he served as VP of AI at Meta, focusing on making Meta products safer and more valuable. Before Meta, Jerome was co-CEO of BenevolentAI, which develops novel AI technologies that will change how drugs are discovered.

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