Millennials Are Concerned Automation Will Reduce Their Job Prospects

A survey shows young professionals anticipate there will be less demand for their skills

16 May 2017

The uncertainty of what automation will mean for employment can be unsettling. That’s true not only for mid-career professionals but also for the millennial generation just embarking on their careers.

Workers born after 1982 do believe automation will bring positive changes such as increased productivity in the workplace; however, they’re concerned it will come at the expense of their jobs. That’s according to the Deloitte Millennial Survey, which asked 8,000 college-educated young professionals from 30 countries about job security.

The survey also asked the participants how they thought automation, artificial intelligence, and robotics will impact the workplace. The results showed they are hopeful yet cautious.

PROS AND CONS

About two-thirds of those surveyed predicted automation will improve productivity, and half said it will increase economic growth. About half said automation will free up time that could be spent on creative endeavors and learning new skills. Employees could work a more flexible schedule, for example, just a few hours a day or just a few days a week. Nearly 20 percent of those surveyed said the workplace is likely to be negatively affected.

A slight majority of the respondents—51 percent—said they will need to be retrained to stay relevant in their positions, and 40 percent said automation will threaten their current job because there will be less demand for their skills. Moreover, 53 percent said automation will make the workplace more impersonal.

Technology-savvy millennials, however, view automation more positively, according to the survey. Among them, 64 percent said automation will increase the number of jobs available to them. By contrast, only 15 percent of those who don’t consider themselves tech-savvy expect there will be enough jobs.

Regardless of which industries automation will disrupt, respondents were more likely than not to view automation as having a more positive impact on customers than on employees.

NOT A LOST CAUSE

Another recent survey by Deloitte, its Global Human Capital Trends on how to organize and manage employees, found that 77 percent of companies are planning either to retrain people to use technology or to redesign jobs to take advantage of people’s skills. Those skills include communication, empathy, and ethical and moral decision making. More than 10,000 businesses from 140 countries were surveyed.

“People are the growth engines of business, so wise corporate leaders are asking themselves what is most important to the people they are trying to hire and retain,” Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert wrote in a LinkedIn blog post about the surveys’ findings. “I believe that the future of work means cooperation between humans and the robots.”

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