Empowering the Freelance Economy

Why AI-skilled IT veterans could have an edge over other candidates

Experienced IT contractors could help staff adopt to AI integration and also collaborate with younger IT staff for mutual beneficial training initiatives.
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Experienced IT contractors aged 50 and above could have an advantage over other candidates if they are swift to embrace the latest AI applications. Here’s why.

A recent report by Cognizant Technology Solutions found that 40% of CIOs believe that AI will have a significant impact on their IT workforce over the next three years. While this may seem daunting for some, it also presents a unique opportunity for IT contractors who have had more than 20 years of experience.

By embracing AI, these individuals can gain a competitive edge in the market, and use their years of experience with data systems integration and training to help the wider workforce adopt new technologies and work in a data-driven environment. This could especially be the case for hiring companies in media, investment management, consumer and retail, all of which are ramping up spending at more than twice the rate of last year. Other sectors such as medical research and construction are also seeing big spending and use of AI tools for workflows.

IT contractors with 20 years of experience and AI skills arguably could hold a significant advantage over those with 10 years or less experience. However, it’s important to note that experience and AI skills are not the only factors that determine success. Passion, a positive attitude, and strong communication skills are also crucial. Additionally, young, talented professionals with relevant AI expertise can still be valuable assets to a team, especially when paired with experienced mentors.

However, Google contractors, for example, that are training and verifying correct data on the actual AI language models are finding development testing highly stressful and at low pay, according to reports.

Experience + AI: what’s it worth?

Deeper understanding of IT systems and processes: With 20 years under their belt, these contractors have seen the evolution of IT infrastructure, software development methodologies, and security practices. This broader perspective allows them to approach problems from different angles, identify potential pitfalls, and implement solutions that are more robust and future-proof.

Specialised knowledge of AI: On top of their general IT expertise, experienced contractors have acquired specific knowledge of AI technologies like machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision. This enables them to apply AI solutions to real-world problems, develop AI-powered applications, and integrate AI with existing systems.

Proven track record of success: 20 years of experience means a long list of successful projects and satisfied clients. This track record speaks volumes about the contractor’s ability to deliver results, manage complex projects, and overcome unforeseen challenges.

Problem-solving and critical thinking skills: Years of experience hone critical thinking and problem-solving skills to a razor’s edge. These contractors can quickly analyse complex situations, identify the root cause of issues, and devise innovative solutions that are not readily apparent to someone with less experience.

Leadership and mentoring skills: With experience comes wisdom, and these senior contractors can mentor and guide junior colleagues. They can foster a collaborative team environment, share their knowledge, and help develop the next generation of IT professionals.

Higher demand and compensation: The combination of experience and AI skills makes these contractors highly sought-after by companies looking to leverage AI for competitive advantage. This translates to higher demand and potentially higher compensation compared to less experienced candidates.

AI audits: they’re here!

In addition to AI integration into companies, IT contractors with sector knowledge may also be called in to handle AI bias intervention via third-party AI audits. Reputational risk and biased AI or online hiring tools are under fire in the US, for example, where companies are being taken to court for suspected biased AI-based hiring practices.

In a Law.com report, it was reported California is the one jurisdiction employers are most concerned about. “That is the No. 1 state they’re looking at,” said Niloy Ray, a Littler Mendelson shareholder and member of its AI in human resource decisions practice.

Ray stated in the report that California’s high court ruled that vendors that use algorithms to target job ads, screen out applicants or perform other employment-related tasks for other companies “can be held liable for discrimination under state law.”

“Companies are also focusing on New York City,” said the report, “which just passed a first-of-its-kind law requiring employers to audit their AI systems for bias in hiring and promotions, and post the results on their websites.”

Ways IT contractors can help companies make the most of AI

  • Upskilling and reskilling: AI-powered learning platforms and tools can provide IT professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies. These platforms offer personalised learning experiences, allowing individuals to focus on specific areas of interest and expertise.
  • Training: Patient and experienced IT contractors could be just what companies need to train non-technical staff in AI applications while IT permanent staff can focus on the integration process and other core tasks.
  • Automating tasks: AI can automate repetitive and mundane tasks, freeing up IT professionals to focus on more strategic and value-added work. This can improve efficiency, productivity, and overall job satisfaction.
  • Enhancing Decision-making: AI can analyse large datasets to provide insights and recommendations that can inform IT decision-making. This can lead to better-informed decisions and improved project outcomes. This is another area for IT training opportunities.
  • Providing customer support: AI is increasingly being used to provide customer support, allowing IT professionals to focus on more complex issues and technical troubleshooting. This can improve customer satisfaction and reduce support costs. However, if UX specialists will also have to be on board to test any bot-based customer experiences, otherwise any new AI integration could be seen serious loss on investment for the client.
  • Collaborating effectively: AI can facilitate collaboration among IT professionals, enabling them to share knowledge, share resources, and work together more effectively on projects. This can lead to better outcomes and a more productive work environment.

Basic training sources for IT pros and non-tech pros

  • Skillshare: Skillshare offers a wide range of online courses and tutorials on various IT topics, allowing individuals to learn new skills and expand their expertise. This could be used as part of in-house training of staff as part of a contractor’s AI training course.
  • Udacity: Udacity provides nano degree programmes that focus on specific IT skills, such as data science, machine learning, and cybersecurity.
  • Coursera: Coursera offers a vast library of online courses from top universities and institutions, covering a wide range of IT topics. Best of Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence (AI) | Coursera
  • Replit: Replit is a cloud-based coding environment that allows individuals to learn and practice coding skills from anywhere.
  • GPT-4: GPT-4‘s large language model can generate text, translate languages, write different kinds of creative content, and answer your questions in an informative way. This can be particularly helpful for IT contractors who need to quickly find information or write technical documentation. However, it is on them to validate the information to avoid hallucinations on behalf of clients.

IT contractors that have years of experience under their belts with knowledge in several business sectors could prove to thrive when it comes to helping clients with AI adoption.

If you are a seasoned IT contractor adopting AI for career advancement or out of survival please share your useful tips in our comments section.

1 Comment
  1. Simon Hodgkinson says

    It’s as if this article was written about me 🙂
    I’m over 50 now and have been a contracting IT Business Analyst in many different domains for nearly 20 years. Being a nerd and geek meant that I was fascinated by the evolution of AI in 2023 and embraced it from the beginning. As well as quickly understanding prompt engineering, the analytical and logical side of my skills have lent themselves well in working with modern-day LLM-type models to benefit both myself and my business clients. This article summarises perfectly the opportunity I saw nearly a year ago – that my invaluable years of experience enhanced by hands-on practical knowledge in the emerging world of AI will propel me into a whole new and exciting direction………why should all the Millennials have it all!

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