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AI Will Enhance The Careers Of Workers Who Use It As Tool, Not A Crutch

No one knows exactly how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to change society, but it’s definitely going to change the workplace. The employees and leaders who thrive will be the ones who know how to use AI as a tool to do their jobs, rather than as a crutch.

That’s according to Calbright faculty member Michael Stewart, who gave a presentation last month at The Non-Credit Institute called “Change, Leadership and AI: Navigating the Future.”

“Most people right now are using AI as a crutch,” Stewart said. “But to be equipped for the future job market, people need to have a competency-based knowledge of AI. Not just use Chat GPT, but make it an effective tool.”

When giving his presentation at The Non-Credit Institute, Stewart used AI to develop the art for his slides and created an AI avatar to introduce him. But the substance of his talk came from his expertise and career experience. 

A leading IT consultant for over 35 years, Stewart is President of Calbright’s Faculty Senate. He holds a Master’s degree in educational technology with a focus on AI. Stewart also serves as one of five California Community College faculty members on the CCC Chancellor’s AI Conversations Working Group, which helps determine how AI is integrated into the CCC system.  

Different kinds of employees will need different kinds of expertise in AI, Stewart said, but the distinction between using the technology as a crutch versus as a tool will be a key distinction.

People use AI as a crutch when they use a generic AI technology to do something they don’t know how to do themselves.  “I can have Chat GPT write for me, but I’m not a writer myself, and that will show up in the finished product,” he said. “A real writer will know what they want to do, have specific prompts that are designed to achieve it, and then develop it themselves from there. Similarly, anyone can have AI write code, but it will be a crutch for someone who doesn’t know how to code.  Someone who does will get very different results.”

To demonstrate mastery of AI skills to future employers, students will need to be familiar with the industry specific AI tools. “It’s not just putting a prompt into Claude, ChatGPT, or Midjourney,” Stewart said. “What specifically would you use for data analysis? For IT support? For cybersecurity? Having up-to-date industry skills and knowledge of the right AI tools for that job will get potential employers excited.”

But while detailed knowledge of specific tools will support employees at the entry and mid-career level, leadership roles will require a broader base knowledge about AI, instead of detailed knowledge of specific tools.

“Leadership will need to be well rounded, to understand that larger fabric of what’s happening in AI, not so they can do it themselves but so they know what kind of questions to ask and what to pay attention to,” he said.

Stewart believes that colleges like Calbright, which are already unconventional and focused on competency-based skill training for the job market, are better suited for teaching this new reality.

“We’re trying to disrupt the job market already by giving our students things that they will see in the workforce but that aren’t really taught in traditional schools. And all of our instructors are in the industry already, so we’re working with real work knowledge that is 100% current.  That’s different already,” he said. “And then we’re adding in durable skills, things that the industry is looking for now. We’re uniquely positioned to help our students get skills that are going to launch them forward quickly.”

AI is constantly changing. Education can keep up.

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