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Employees don’t believe the automation hype — but also think robots will take their jobs

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Dive Brief:

  • ZipRecruiter’s “State of the American Job Seeker: AI, Automation + Technological Change” survey found that 60% of job seekers think job loss to automation is “overhyped,” yet 64% also believe that robots or computers will replace workers in most industries, including their own jobs. The Harris poll interviewed employed and unemployed job seekers for their views on technology, automation and work in the future.
  • The report also found that although most job seekers (77%) have heard of the term “automation,” less than 30% actually understand what it means. Many respondents think the technology boom has left people (84%) and cities (78%) behind.
  • But what does the job seeker of tomorrow need to look like? Workers are especially uncertain. Just under half of workers have both soft and STEM skills, according to the study, but affordability remains the top hurdle to workers going out and learning new skills.

Dive Insight:

These survey results show that job seekers might be conflicted about how job loss due to automation will affect them. They might not know what automation entails or what they might be doing in the future — or how quickly automation may arrive.

Employers also might be contributing, in part, to the conflict. Few companies, if any, know exactly what kind of jobs they will need to prepare their workers for, and perhaps haven’t taken the time to explain what automation is and how it will could workers’ jobs in the future. While most employers by now may be aware that they need to train their workforces to adapt, a full third of workers did nothing to upskill in the past year. If automation is moving as fast as some experts say, employers need to start these conversations now.

Employers, too, should take note of employees’ concerns about affordability of training, as that presents a real opportunity for an employer to step in and provide a necessary service. A solid training program can not only help keep employees up to speed, but provide a solid retention strategy in a difficult time to find new talent.

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