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Artificial Intelligence

More than Half of U.S. Employees Fear Losing Their Job to Robots

According to a new national survey from MindEdge Learning, 52 percent of employees at United States companies that have adopted some form of advanced automation are concerned about losing their jobs. The edtech firm polled 1,000 management-level workers across a variety of industries, including technology, manufacturing, financial services and healthcare, about the rise of robots and AI in the workplace and the skills workers will need to remain secure in their careers.

Across the board, 33 percent of managers reported that their company has adopted robotics or other forms of advanced automation. At those companies, more than half of employees are worried about their job security. Forty-two percent of managers believe that the adoption of robotics and automation will result in the elimination of jobs. And just 18 percent said that automation will help to create jobs.

According to the report, a mix of hard and soft skills is key for employees to outperform robots. About 40 percent of managers, however, said that their employees are currently lacking in both areas. The soft skills that will best separate humans from robots include:

  • Creative thinking (cited by 30 percent of respondents);
  • Critical thinking (29 percent);
  • Communication (21 percent);
  • Decision-making (21 percent); and
  • Negotiation (20 percent).

Internal training/retraining and continuing education were the methods managers deemed most effective to provide workers with the skills they need to stay employed. But only 20 percent of managers believe that employers should be responsible for that training. Twenty-seven percent of managers said it's the responsibility for employees to train and prepare themselves, and 50 percent called it a shared responsibility for both employees and employers.

"It's clear that for workers across most  industries, the future of work is in flux. Change is already upon the U.S. workforce with companies tapping automation, artificial intelligence and robotics to become more efficient — and that will present some challenges," commented Jefferson Flanders, CEO of MindEdge, in a statement. "We think there are creative ways for workers and companies to make sure they can compete. Learning and training — for both hard and soft skills — lie at the heart of any effective response."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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