“AI at the moment is not replacing creativity and it’s not changing how recruiters work, but at times clients ask freelancers to make sure they do use the AI tools,” Matt Barrie, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Freelancer.com explained why learning AI tools adds up as a skill in an AI-driven job market. “AI is turbocharging the skills of freelancers,” he added.
Barrie, who runs the world’s largest freelancing marketplace connecting over 67 million professionals, said the nature of work will dramatically change as jobs will move up the stack in an AI-dominated work world. “If you are an illustrator today, and you spend 20 to 40 hours doing an illustration, tomorrow to adapt to the world of AI, you are going to become more like a cinematographer or a director or a composer or a producer,” he told indianexpress.com. “The same thing is going to happen with writing, you will be less writing the copy and function more like an editor or a sub-editor, where you will be kind of directing ChatGPT and you will be performing at a higher level.”
According to Barrie, software developers won’t be writing Python code in the next 12 months. Instead, they will be talking to software with a more ChatGPT-like interface. “I think every bit of software across industries is going to be AI-powered in the next few months.”
Rather than making a highly-skilled professional obsolete, Barrie predicts that AI will challenge the authority of a seasoned illustrator who has spent years honing the skills and charges top dollar for the creation. “In the future, you’re going to be challenged because businesses would not be paying for 20 to 40 hours worth of work to generate the illustration given software tools that can generate it in 10 seconds.”
“Cameras didn’t put painters out of business, but they did open up a whole world of opportunity with art,” he said. “Those who have spent 10 years really perfecting the old way of doing the applied work, they’re gonna have to change the way they work. Otherwise, there’s not going to be the appetite, really, unless you are at the very, very elite level to pay what you paid before.”
With generative AI tools like ChatGPT becoming more accessible, some workers feel anxious about their futures and whether the skills they have will be relevant to the labor market in years to come. “You still need someone to be able to communicate effectively in the language of the profession to drive the AI,” he said, adding that it won’t be the average person, but someone who will know something about the theory to communicate to the AI. That person might be lower paid, they may be on the internet, they may be a freelancer, they may be from India and new to the workforce in India but have done their university degree in computer science.”
Barrie believes India will benefit more from the AI revolution compared to the Western economies. “India will be a huge winner because when [these] new entrants enter the workforce without much work experience, AI tools lift their skill level quite dramatically,” he said. In fact, Barrie is of the opinion that highly trained, highly paid skilled niche professionals in Western countries will lose out both in productivity and job opportunities.
India is the top market for Freelancer.com with about 20 million freelancers registered on the talent platform. The fastest-growing skill in Q2 2023 in India was Creative Writing followed by Adobe Lightroom and Writing (MS Word), whereas Digital Marketing, Metatrader, Web Development and iOS development saw a steep decline. In fact, niche tech jobs were the fastest-falling overall category among Indian employers on the platform in the last quarter.
While journalists and illustrators have long been perceived as a target of automation due to AI, Barrie said those people in voice support, chat support, ticket support, and email support will eventually lose their jobs to artificial intelligence. He also expects pre-sales activities will be fully automated as well as legal drafting.
For Barrie, AI will have a bigger impact than the launch of the commercial internet. “I think the next 12 months in the world is going to be crazy,” he said. But more importantly, AI is part of changing the nature of work and how companies will hire people in the future. Barrie’s Sydney-headquartered Freelancer.com is at the center of a significant shift that will impact both recruiters and the workforce. The site has a powerful database of freelancers from across the globe that can meet the needs of startups and large and small organizations for both long and short-term projects.
At a time when the job market is volatile and long-term stability is weathering away, many workers want to have more control over their careers. Some want the flexibility of working from home, while others seek to earn an extra income without leaving their day job. Freelancing is on the rise and is growing. In fact, half of the US workforce will be freelancing by 2027.
“For a lot of people, it’s full-time,” Barrie said when asked if people look for freelance jobs for a certain period or if they do it for a long term. “The hardest thing is to get the first job but if you do a good job, and you get to a certain point where you have too much work, then you’ve got to make a decision, do I want to start a company or not,” he explained how freelancing can bring a meaningful growth to your career. “It’s basically a slingshot for creating your own company.”