Generative AI will help us create more equitable and inclusive careers and employability provision

Technology providers must work with universities and students to harness the potential of generative AI for good, argues Clare Adams

Clare Adams is Director of Research and Insights at Handshake

Generative AI has enormous potential to transform students’ career journeys. It could support students to understand their skills, apply for roles, interact with job boards and employers, and prepare for recruitment processes. Nearly half of students are already using generative AI tools to support them in their job applications.

At Handshake, in line with other tech-forward organisations, we are exploring generative AI tools to improve basic workflows. But the real prize, and the focus of our development efforts, is on supporting students by delivering experiences that combine generative AI with connections to real people and communities.

Far from seeing use of AI in learning and career preparation as “cheating” we think that use of AI tools will become ubiquitous in a short period of time – and that our responsibility as a tech provider, in partnership with educators, and employers, must be to ensure that students should be empowered to harness it through understanding its limitations and how best to leverage it for their future success.

Employer demand for AI literacy is set to continue to increase. On Handshake, the number of job posts mentioning ChatGPT more than doubled each month between January and May 2023. And as with many past technological breakthroughs, early talent is critical in meeting this demand. Gen Z leads adoption, using generative AI for school, university and work far more than previous generations. For them and those to come, AI fluency will be essential career capital.

By investing in early talent literate in AI, employers can maximise productivity in the generative AI revolution. Recent graduates and current students are primed to help companies implement generative models and reskill colleagues. With proper training, mentorship, sponsorship, and support, early talent can rapidly disseminate their AI expertise throughout organisations.

But even before graduates enter the workforce, there are significant opportunities for AI to enable more equitable and more human centred careers provision in universities.

Equitable and personalised career information provision

An information gap holds millions of students from seeing the breadth of opportunities available to them. Generative AI could help close this gap. Imagine a “career co-pilot” with unlimited capacity to comprehend your unique skills, interests, and goals, possesses encyclopaedic knowledge of all occupations and can help chart customised suggested career paths, by analysing millions of student trajectories.

Acting as a personal assistant, this co-pilot can prompt students about relevant on-campus events that may be useful and connect them with careers professionals, alumni, peers or employers in their community. As an AI-powered tool, the co-pilot could share insights with campus career professionals to inform their work as well, leveraging AI to amplify connections to real people and communities. Imagine the equalising effect that making such a tool available to all could have.

Maximising the impact of careers professionals

As generative AI transforms how students access information and advice, it will transform how careers professionals support students in their early career. Liberated from routine tasks, careers professionals will be able to maximise the amount of time and focus that can be spent in career advice and coaching, and exploring students’ internal narratives about career.

Likewise, recruiting and hiring processes often get bogged down in extensive emailing and scheduling. This administrative work limits a recruiter’s ability to build relationships and guide candidates. Generative AI offers immense potential to increase efficiency, freeing up time for what matters most: human connection. Rather than replacing human roles, responsible use of generative AI can complement recruiters’ invaluable emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.

Levelling the recruitment playing field

Securing a job is still dominated by processes in which social capital can outweigh raw talent. AI-powered simulations could replace CVs and assessments, enabling applicants to demonstrate skills in realistic settings. With real-time feedback and iteration, AI can objectively assess critical capabilities like collaboration and learning agility with less bias.

By reviewing content like job postings, benefits packages, performance reviews, and marketing materials, AI models can identify and remove bias and biassed language. Simultaneously, generative AI tools can generate new content that attracts diverse applicants and educates creators on more equitable practices. In this way, responsible implementation of generative AI can mitigate bias while fostering welcoming, inclusive environments that allow early talent to thrive.

Our commitment to ethical use of AI

At Handshake, we remain committed to ethical, transparent innovation that supports the 13 million+ students and young alumni, 1,400+ educational institutions and 850K+ employers that make up the Handshake community. We have developed a series of principles that offer assurance to our community of our commitment to lead with ethical AI:

  • Students first: We are a platform powered by people. AI is a tool that can empower students, alumni, careers professionals, and employers and support every student to find a meaningful career
  • Transparency & training: We educate users on AI through accessible information about AI and how we utilise AI
  • Privacy & security: We implement rigorous safeguards to protect user data and regularly review our policies, vendors, and systems
  • Partnership: We collaborate with students, careers professionals, and employers to shape a focused, ethical research agenda that informs our developments
  • Equity & inclusion: We build tools to increase opportunities and remove unfair bias, evaluating new developments to understand capabilities, limitations, and impacts
  • Responsible innovation: We deploy robust governance to advance AI responsibly, keeping stakeholders informed through regular reporting and discussion

The future is hugely exciting, though sometimes too, a little scary! But there is a real possibility we can take a major leap forward in further equipping students to find the career path that is right for them and start to redress the inequities that persist in shaping career progression.

This article is published in association with Handshake. You can download Handshake’s position paper on generative AI here. You can also keep up with the latest news around AI and the future of work by signing up to Handshake’s monthly Early Talent and AI newsletter.

Leave a Reply