New Report Claims Majority of US Workers Not Afraid of Automation
Kagan Pittman posted on July 19, 2017 |

Popular media has painted a picture of the public’s fear of automation taking away jobs—especially in the manufacturing industry. However, Randstad US has released a report today indicating the opposite.

The 2017 Randstad Employer Brand Research found only 14 percent of US employees worry that automation will take their jobs away and that 30 percent believe automation will make their jobs better. The report contains input from over 5,300 individuals, aged 18-65 and across various industries, through online interviews.

The report indicated that 51 percent of respondents would be willing to retrain if paid the same or higher salary.

“It is evident from our research that not only are workers not afraid of losing their jobs to automation, they are more than willing to retrain to leverage efficiencies and benefits of artificial intelligence and robotics in the workplace,” said Linda Galipeau, CEO of Randstad North America.

She added, “It has become necessary for today’s employees and job seekers to continually cultivate, develop and update their skills to work successfully alongside AI and automation. In conjunction with retraining and upskilling efforts, workers should focus on growing unique human skills that AI and robots are unable to replicate, such as strategic and abstract thinking, complex communications, creativity and leadership competencies.”

Randstad’s latest Talent Trends survey finds that only 6 percent of US C-suite and human capital leader respondents believe increasing automation will have a significant impact on workforce planning and shifting the talent needed.

AI and robotics will have a positive impact on the workplace within the next 5 years, according to 84 percent of U.S. respondents, while 48 percent believe automation and machine learning has already had a positive impact within the past 12 months. Forty-five percent say the same for robotics.

Nearly a third (31 percent) of employers said they have increased usage of automation/robotics in their business in the past 12 months.

“The inescapable reality is automation and AI are here to stay and will continue to grow substantially,” said Galipeau. “As business leaders invest in digitization, automation, AI and other emerging technologies in the workplace, they must continue to evolve their workforce alongside these advancements… The need for skilled humans to operate, utilize and advance technologies is equally unmistakable.”

It’s important to note however, that analysts from institutions including Oxford University, the World Economic Forum and others have painted a glum future in comprehensive pieces like those by Business Insider’s Oscar Williams-Grut last year.

I find it impossible to disagree that some jobs are undeniably going to be lost, despite a relaxed or optimistic perspective on automation in the workforce. Although, these lost jobs will be menial, repetitive and dangerous ones, as we illustrate in a series of articles on industrial robots:

·         A History of Collaborative Robots: From Intelligent Lift Assists to Cobots

Randstad’s research, conducted since 2000, was done by Randstad’s International research partner, Kantar TNS. Respondents for the 2017 research were polled from Nov. 25 to Dec. 15, 2016.

For more information, visit the Randstad website or read on about their recommended four ways to update soft skills in an automated workplace.

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