Innovation

More than 75% of American workers aren't worried about their jobs being replaced by robots, AI

A Tuesday report by Randstad found that successfully automating tasks will depend largely on how well employees train the workforce for new or higher-level jobs.

For all the hype about artificial intelligence (AI) completely replacing human jobs, the vast majority of Americans are still not very worried about it. According to the 2017 Randstad Employer Brand Research, released Tuesday, a whopping 76% of US workers do not fear that their job will be replaced by a machine.

In fact, only 14% of American employees hold this fear. And 30% actually welcome automation in the workplace, which they said could improve their current jobs.

The findings, which seems to contradict popular opinion, are based on a survey gauging employee attitudes about AI and automation. According to the survey, more than half of workers (51%) would be willing to retrain or upskill, in order to work with automation or AI—if, of course, their pay isn't cut.

Additionally, Randstad Sourceright's 2017 Talent Trends survey of more than 700 C-suite and human capital leaders showed how business leaders plan to respond to the AI renaissance. The results ran parallel to the employees' predictions in the most recent study: A very small fraction (6%) of respondents said they see automation majorly shifting talent needs at their workplace.

Most American employers (84%) see AI and automation as improving the workplace in the near future—the next three to five years. Nearly half (48%) point to automation as positively affecting their current business over the last year. Seventy-four percent predict that their business will see an increased influence of automation and machine learning—and in this vein, 31% of employers have beefed up automation and AI at the workplace in the last year.

"It is evident from our research that not only are workers not afraid of losing their jobs to automation, they are more than willing to retrain to leverage the efficiencies and benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in the workplace," said Linda Galipeau, CEO of Randstad North America, in a press release. "These sentiments should be welcome news for companies as they seek greater adoption of automation to drive productivity and innovation. As we have known for quite some time, the success of organizations in the future will depend greatly on their ability to strike a balance between valuable human insight and interaction with technology."

This isn't to say that employers or employees should become complacent. The fact is, AI and automation are poised to shake up our traditional ideas of employment. And in a recent survey of 351 scientists, a detailed timeline was proposed for actual dates when human tasks will be completed by machines. Still, that report showed that only 50% predicted that machines will replace all human jobs in 120 years. While AI is guaranteed to replace certain tasks—like long haul trucking—it's likely to create new ones too. New research from IDC estimates that AI will create 823,734 jobs by 2021.

Want to use this data in your next business presentation? Feel free to copy and paste these top takeaways into your next slideshow.

  • The 2017 Randstad Employer Brand Research shows that 76% of US workers do not fear that their job will be replaced by a machine.
  • More than half of American workers (51%) would be willing to retrain or upskill, in order to work with automation or AI—if, of course, their pay isn't cut.
  • Only 6% of top business leaders say said they see automation majorly shifting talent needs at their workplace.

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About Hope Reese

Hope Reese is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers the intersection of technology and society, examining the people and ideas that transform how we live today.

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