Are Canadians unfazed by AI and automation?

Only a quarter believe emerging technologies will produce benefits at work

Are Canadians unfazed by AI and automation?

More than half of Canadian workers are sceptical artificial intelligence and automation would have an impact on their employment, a new study suggests.

HR consulting firm Robert Half recently surveyed more than 400 professionals in Canada to find out their thoughts on how emerging technologies might affect their work.

A quarter of respondents believe AI programs and robots would have a positive effect on their jobs, while 16% claim these things would only lead to negative results.

However, 59% of workers claim AI programs and robots would neither be beneficial nor detrimental to their jobs.

These findings run contrary to those of Robert Half’s AI Anxiety report, in which futurists and staffing experts in the country suggested emerging technologies would cause a massive shift in the workplace.

In this study, almost half (49%) of business leaders reported workers would soon be required to upskill to be better handle technologies related to their jobs.

David King, senior district president for Robert Half, explained that the impact of emerging technologies on the workplace goes beyond all aspects of business regardless of industry. He said both workers and organizations need to embrace and keep ahead of these changes to be able to meet business demands and stay competitive.

Aside from requiring workers to have new skills, respondents think technological advancements would also lead to the following benefits:

  • Change in processes (48%)
  • Higher employee productivity (45%)
  • Replacement of routine responsibilities (45%)
  • More time to focus on strategic areas (37%)
  • New career opportunities for employees (37%)

From the workers’ perspective, those who believe AI and automation would be beneficial to their work predict such technologies would result in:

  • More opportunities to focus on creativity and problem-solving (38%)
  • Higher productivity (31%)
  • Developing new skills and delivering better business solutions (19%)

Business leaders also outlined their plans on how to help upskill workers:

  • 64% of business leaders said they will train their current staff
  • 48% said they will hire new staff
  • 41% said they will bring in technology experts as consultants
  • 39% said they will work with external service providers

While they would be willing to help workers cope with changes brought on by emerging technologies, 90% of managers admitted it would not be easy to get their employees updated on the latest tech.

Meanwhile, 88% of them said it would also be a challenge for them to find workers who already have the necessary 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,” King said.

“Workers who demonstrate an eagerness to learn and ability to adapt quickly to change will be in high demand,” he added. “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.”

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