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The financial labour market will change radically – and now is the time to act

Artificial intelligence is developing rapidly, and we are therefore at the eleventh hour if we want to ensure that employees can keep up with the future labour market. This is the opinion of Finansforbundet and the Danish Employers' Association for the Financial Sector (FA), which therefore form a united front and call on the government to act.

26. Jun 2023
6 min
English / Dansk

Artificial intelligence is here to stay, and it requires action.

Financial sector employers and employees alike agree on this. And they also agree on the way forward. It is about ensuring that employees can keep up and work in a setting where it is quite natural for artificial intelligence to become part of job.

"Artificial intelligence will change the content of many job functions. And it requires new skills on the part of the employees who have to apply it. There is no doubt that our sector has a long-established and strong tradition of ensuring staff competence development, and we must continue to do so," states Nicole Offendal, CEO of the Danish Employers' Association for the Financial Sector (FA).

And Kent Petersen, President of Finansforbundet, concurs:

"Some traditional financial sector jobs may disappear, but new jobs will be created. And it is important to acknowledge that a skills transformation towards where the new jobs arise is required," he says.

"It's not something the financial sector can solve on its own. Society and the labour market must undertake this initiative."
- Kent Petersen, President of Finansforbundet

Calls for tripartite negotiations

Nicole Offendal highlights that FA has member companies that have already implemented more than 200 robots or AI in their business. This involves everything from customer service chatbots to AI algorithms assisting with risk and credit assessments.

At the same time, she points to a survey recently carried out by the Employers' Association, which shows that the financial sector is one of the industries that is so far most exposed to AI.
The survey also shows that 64 per cent of the respondent financial services companies answer that, within three years, artificial intelligence will take over job functions currently performed by humans.
Finansforbundet and FA agree that they each have a co-responsibility for ensuring that employees are properly skilled to utilise and work with artificial intelligence.

However, the problem is bigger than that and therefore requires the government to initiate tripartite talks as soon as possible.

"It's not something the financial sector can solve on its own. Society and the labour market must undertake this initiative," explains Kent Petersen.

And the message from the FA is the same.

"It's so huge an issue that the social partners cannot be expected to solve it alone. The politicians are responsible for ensuring that the labour market is ready for the society in which we will all soon be living. Because it is also society that is to reap the fruits," says Nicole Offendal.

"Artificial intelligence is developing rapidly, and soon reality will have caught up with us."
- Nicole Offendal, CEO of the Danish Employers' Association for the Financial Sector.

Rather yesterday than tomorrow

This work should have started yesterday rather than tomorrow, explains Kent Petersen, who also finds that the tripartite efforts ought to have a significantly different setup than involving employer and employee representatives meeting with politicians and ultimately shaking hands on an agreement.

The President of Finansforbundet would like the approach to be more tangible and for scenarios to be set up as to how artificial intelligence will affect different industries.

"Of course, there is a huge difference between working at a construction site, in a hospital or in a financial company. But what we all agree on is that artificial intelligence will mean even more to the way we work – no matter what industry you are employed in.

"You have to construct scenarios for how it will unfold in the different industries and then look at the training initiatives that need to be taken," Kent Petersen clarifies.

The CEO of FA underlines that she is also of the view that we need to learn more about the direction of change. She believes that effective tripartite negotiations will also require gathering a lot of parties that are not normally brought together – this applies to everything from primary and lower secondary schools, post-secondary education programmes, upper secondary schools, social partners and people with knowledge of skills development.

Like Kent Petersen, she stresses that it is necessary to start immediately.

"We have definitely reached the eleventh hour. We cannot lean back and suggest that we prepare a digitalisation strategy or lengthy analyses that take two years to conduct because artificial intelligence is progressing rapidly, and soon we will have been overtaken by reality. Consequently, we have to get started, and then we will build the road while proceeding," says Nicole Offendal.

Both the President of Finansforbundet, Kent Petersen, and CEO of FA, Nicole Offendal, urge the government to open tripartite negotiations as soon as possible.

Similar to the calculator in the first years of school

According to Kent Petersen, the skills that employees must learn to master will, for instance, be about understanding the underlying technology.

He gives an example of when he himself was in lower secondary school, and calculators were banned from the math lessons.

"We were one of the first generations to be given calculators, and it was discussed whether we could bring it to the exam. Now it is quite natural to use the calculator, and the vast majority can no longer do all sorts of mental calculations. We are used to using the calculator, but we also understand the theory behind it, i.e. how to multiply and divide," says Kent Petersen and explains:

"It's a simplified example, but the idea is that we should be able to understand the technology behind artificial intelligence. And that's not the same as saying that we shouldn't use it. On the contrary; we need to use it to make our own decision-making basis easier."

In addition, the President of Finansforbundet emphasises the indication of social and relational skills coming into play to a much greater extent.

"In other words, our ability to enter into relationships with other people and create an understanding of how things are connected. To be able to communicate, explain and create security and trust," says Kent Petersen, who nonetheless points out that the primary message is that we cannot actually know this for sure and should therefore set up the above scenarios.

As basic as being able to spell and do math

In terms of FA, Nicole Offendal would like us to get to a point where artificial intelligence is incorporated into the subjects right from primary school all the way up through the school system, so that teaching is based on the technologies that young people will work with in the future.

"I actually think it's just as basic as spelling and calculating, if not more over time, because ChatGPT can write and do math for us as well. I actually believe that this will be the key skill for many years to come," claims Nicole Offendal.

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