September 11, 2019

Britons least concerned about losing jobs to AI

By Rosie Lintott

Employees in Britain are the least concerned about losing their jobs to artificial intelligence (AI), according to research by leading HR solutions provider Adecco Group.

Just 24% of UK workers said they were concerned or very concerned by the effect of AI on jobs.

However, employees in Singapore, India, Italy, France, China and Japan are all concerned about technology replacing them in their roles.

Adecco Group worked in partnership with Boston Consulting Group to survey 4,700 workers from nine countries, to understand how workers are experiencing reskilling today.

The ‘Future Skilling’ study found that 43% of British employees expect technology to slowly change their job or not at all, with 59% of Japanese employees believing this as well.

Employees in other countries are less sceptical about tech changes: Italy (24%), India (23%), China (27%) and Switzerland (27%).

Adecco Group UK&I president and country head Alex Fleming said: “The rise of technology will see roles change and new jobs emerge, so skills will need to evolve in order to keep up with and benefit from these developments. Over the past decade, the majority of UK workers have recognised the importance of upskilling.

“However, the number of people not even considering acquiring new skills in response to this is concerning. Both individuals and the organisations they work for need to ensure that they are ready to retain and upskill in order to meet the demands of our future economy.”

Losing jobs to AI can be countered by upskilling

When preparing for technology changes in the workplace, 69% of people in the UK said they have acquired a new skill in the last ten years.

16% stated they had never considered getting a new skill, due to either no major change in their job profile, being close to retirement or feeling safe in their job. Lack of time and cost of acquiring new skills were barriers to workers obtaining new skills.

Fleming added: “Far from a nice to have, upskilling will increasingly become the key to not just futureproofing jobs, but organisation too. The fact that a lack of time is cited as one of the main barriers to acquiring new skills, means that there is still a way to go to ensure this message gets through.”

Boston Consulting Group managing director and partner Nick South said: “Employees are generally optimistic about their ability to acquire new skills and be successful in the digital world of the future.

“However, there is a disconnect between this optimism and how they will actually acquire these skills, and in the extent to which companies are actively evaluating gaps between the skills they have today and those they need in the future.

“Our research highlights the need for a shift in mindset on this critical issue, and also outlines a clear, two-pronged strategy for organisations that combines upskilling and automation. Companies should work in partnership with their staff to ensure they can continue to develop and thrive in the workforce of the future.”

Read more: 5 future-proof jobs you should consider retraining for in 2019

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