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59% of Canadian workers believe AI and automation will have no impact on jobs


June 20, 2019
By CS Staff

TORONTO—Are workers worried they’ll be displaced by robots in the future? Not for the most part, new research from global staffing firm Robert Half shows.

Only 16% of workers in Canada are concerned that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will have a negative impact on their job. One-quarter (25%) believe new technologies will have a positive effect, and 59% foresee no effect at all.

But futurists and staffing experts interviewed for Robert Half’s new report, Jobs and AI Anxiety, believe emerging technologies are profoundly shifting the workplace. According to more than 300 Canadian business leaders surveyed for the research, one of the top ways technological advancements will affect jobs is they will require new skills from employees.

“The impact of new technologies in the workplace transcends all aspects of business, regardless of industry,” said David King, senior district president for Robert Half, in a prepared statement. “Professionals and organizations alike need to embrace and stay ahead of these inevitable changes in order to meet business demands and remain competitive.”

Additional Findings:

In addition to requiring new skills (49%), employers said other top impacts of new technologies on their staff include:

  • Change in processes (48%)
  • Increased employee productivity (45%)
  • Replace routine responsibilities (45%)
  • More time for teams to focus on strategic areas (37%)
  • New career opportunities (37%)

One-quarter of employees (25%) said they see AI and automation having a positive impact on their job, mainly for the following reasons:

  • Opportunity to focus on creativity and problem-solving (38%)
  • Increased productivity (31%)
  • Ability to develop new skills and deliver better business solutions (19%)

Upskilling for the Future

Business leaders surveyed for the Jobs and AI Anxiety report expect to upgrade the technological skills of their workforce by training current staff (64%), hiring new staff (48%), bringing in consultants who are subject matter experts (41%) and working with external service providers (39%).

But 90% of managers think it will be challenging to get their staff up to speed on new technologies, and 88% anticipate it will be difficult to find professionals with the requisite expertise.

“Keeping up with the latest technology may feel challenging at times, but it’s as important for professional growth as it is for business development,” added King. “Workers who demonstrate an eagerness to learn and ability to adapt quickly to change will be in high demand. And companies that provide staff opportunities to experiment with new tools, while taking a proactive approach to identify and address skills gaps on their teams, will be best positioned to navigate the future.”