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Over a half of workers feel their jobs are at risk to automation

Over a half of workers feel their jobs are at risk to automation

Until only recently, artificial intelligence (AI) had been placed on the same shelf as jet packs and flying cars – a futuristic concept that was a little too high for modern technology to reach.

But now that the AI Pandora’s Box is well and truly opened, a digital transformation is on its way and the unembellished reality of how this will impact today’s workforce is becoming more and more apparent to British workers. 

To gain an insight into how professionals think AI will impact the jobs market, we interviewed more than 1,000 office workers throughout the country as a part of our Talent Trends research.

One of the most prominent concerns, according to our findings, is that 59% of office workers feel their jobs are at risk to automation.

So, what is likely to happen to today’s workforce, and what can organisations do about it?

Change is on its way

AI and automation technology offer organisations a whole new plethora of potential perks; a more productive workforce, less room for human error, greater business opportunities, to name just a few. 

Despite these benefits, new technology also poses a serious threat to today’s workforce – mainly, robots could replace them. 

Within the next 15 years, it is estimated that more than 10 million UK workers (30% of the workforce) are at serious risk of being replaced by robots, according to a PwC report that came out earlier this year.

To maintain a competitive edge, organisations should by all means look to adopt and adapt to new technologies, but considering the possible impact and repercussions it will have on your current and future workforce is also imperative.

This AI transformation is clearly something that is playing on the minds of many British workers. While the majority of professionals (61%) don’t believe their current jobs will be impacted directly within the next three to five years, our research revealed 79% of workers are concerned about how AI will impact the jobs market. 

Brace yourself for the automation transformation

With the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, labelling AI a "fundamental risk to the existence of human civilisation" and a bigger threat to the world than North Korea, there’s a strong sense of fear associated with new automation and AI technology. (Side note: remember the Millennium Bug?)

In the workplace, AI technology may help professionals with creative or communication-based tasks to work faster and more efficiently. On the other hand, roles that involve more predictable or repetitive tasks may be at risk of becoming obsolete. 

Some industries are far more susceptible than others - our research found workers in the finance, marketing and IT sectors are particularly concerned about the impact of AI, at 85%, 83% and 83% respectively.

When it comes to automation, individuals in the finance and IT industries feel their jobs are particularly vulnerable, with 82% of IT workers and 79% of finance workers admitting their positions may be at risk.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Our survey revealed 62% of office workers believe a range of new job opportunities will pop alongside innovations in AI technology - this belief is considerably stronger with younger professionals, with 74% agreeing.

What should organisations do about it?

As AI technology continues to develop, it is essential for organisations to pinpoint the type of talent they want to attract and retain in years to come.

But rather than focusing purely on the technical skills and know-how, organisations should seek out individuals with the right mindset and approach; agility, collaboration, communication, and innovation – these are all attributes that will become even more crucial in building the workforce of the future.

The fact of the matter is that modern skillsets are changing rapidly, and while some skills may gradually be replaced by AI, effective people skills, such as being an influential and confident communicator, or being able to articulately express your ideas, are essential in building stronger connections and relationships with your clients and customers.

So, while a robot revolution is most definitely on its way, organisations should focus their attention on finding individuals with the necessary human characteristics that will enable them to succeed in the new world of work.

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