There’s been plenty of predictions about the impact of automation on the workforce: from enhancing the ability of workers to do their jobs to those who argue intelligent automation will eventually decimate the human workforce. The issue even made it to the Democratic presidential 2020 primary race with candidate Andrew Yang’s “Freedom Dividend.”
Still, if a recently published survey from business process automation provider Sykes is any indication, American workers aren’t very concerned. In fact, two-thirds of those Americans surveyed indicated they have yet to see automation on the job: 66% said that automation did not assist them with repetitive tasks in 2019. That response diverged with millennials (those 25 to 34 in this survey), with 41% saying that automaton has assisted them in their jobs last year.
Most Americans show a positive attitude toward on-the-job automation. According to the survey, 63% of respondents said that they could be better at their jobs if automating certain tasks enabled them to do more in less time. Not surprisingly, the percentage was highest, 71%, with the youngest (18 to 24) age group. Further, two-thirds of respondents said they would more likely apply at a company that is investing in automation technologies.
Indeed, the majority (58%) of respondent employers are actually providing some or a lot of training or other resources to help employees keep current with technological change.
The vast majority, 84%, of respondents believe their jobs will soon involve new automation technologies and expect some of their work to be completed by automation in 2020. While most respondents were open to increasingly working with automation to complete their jobs, few want to work for bots. The majority, a sizable 87%, said they are more willing to take orders from a human than a software bot (13%).
What industries do respondents think will be the most impacted by automation? In order, the U.S. workers surveyed believe manufacturing (65%), telecommunications (50%), and transportation (38%).
When it comes to public programs designed to mitigate the impact of automation on the workforce. However, 57% of workers believe that the U.S. government has a responsibility to compensate workers whose jobs are lost to automation. Of those, only 32% believe Universal Basic Income is the way to address jobs lost to automation, while 25% look to the existing welfare system. About 43% of workers do not think it’s the government’s role to compensate those whose lost their job because of automation.
The Sykes survey is based on the responses of 1,500 employed within the United States.