MindEdge/Skye Learning conducted a study to understand if robots will replace humans as advanced automation solutions continue to grow.
Are the industries ready for “Robomageddon?” With robotics and advanced automation growing in the American workplace, workers are expressing conflicting and contradictory attitudes about the impact of these new technologies.
MindEdge/ Skye Learning, in its third annual national study, surveyed 1,017 U.S. workers about the state of workplace automation and robotics. The study is known as “Preparing for Robot Colleagues: A New Decade of Robomageddon.” The study found that about 32% of American employees report that advanced technology–including AI, robot workers, and analytics–has been introduced into their workplaces in the last year. Of these employees, 76% agreed that the new automation had made their jobs faster and easier. The survey respondents do not feel immediately threatened by the adoption of advanced technology: only 25% of workers confirmed that they are concerned about being replaced by these robots in 2020, while 53% confirm that they are not at all worried.
Workers also express some hesitation about workplace automation and technology. A majority of 55 % disagree with the assertion that robots work better than humans, and about 57% agree that robots and advanced automation can hurt American workers.
As RPA adoption increases among U.S. firms, workers need to prepare for the inevitable changes that are coming. Approximately 69% of employees confirmed that their firms adopted workplace automation, which has made a positive impact on the overall workplace and the workers. And 65% verified that technology could free up humans for more exciting and intelligent work. Still, 44% of the workers in newly automated workplaces reported that technology has taken over a portion of their jobs. This highlights the need for workers across industries to up-skill themselves to future-proof themselves in the era of Robomageddon.
There are diverse opinions on the question of whether technology leads to job creation: 41% believe this will be possible, but 47% disagree. The level of skepticism is higher among workers in the manufacturing sector (54%), women (52%), workers over the age of 39 (51%), and rank-and-file workers (55%). The perception that RPA will be bad for American workers is even stronger among employees with only a high-school education (66%) and employees in the retail sector (68%). Surely, there is virtually not much difference of opinion on this issue between workers at firms who have recently automated (57%) and workers at firms that have not automated newly (59%).
The negative attitudes stand in stark contrast to the positivity that technology is improving morale and simplifying the workers’ jobs. This discrepancy clearly shows that American workers are still confused regarding the impact of technology on the workplace as they are not yet able to arrive at a clear consensus on the issue.
The bottom line is that while many workers are still unsure about how they feel about workplace automation, the vast majority (88%) believe that gaining relevant industry skills through continuous learning and up-skilling is a useful strategy for “future-proofing” their careers.