U.S. Employees' Perspectives on the Jobs Most at Risk from Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace
Thursday, August 8th, 2019
A new survey finds U.S. workers believe jobs in Manufacturing (43%), Retail/Checkout Clerks (40%), Telemarketers (38%) and in Data Entry (37%) are the most likely to shrink due to the expansion of artificial intelligence (AI). However, two-thirds (67%) of respondents say they are not afraid that AI/bots will replace their own jobs within the next 10 years.
These findings stem from research sponsored by Genesys, the global leader in omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions, into the attitudes of 1,001 employed Americans regarding the current and future effects of AI on the workplace.
Survey participants in a wide variety of industries were asked to select the three jobs most likely to be replaced by AI from among the following options: Accountant/Tax Preparer, Data Entry, Food Service, Insurance Underwriters, Manufacturing, Paralegal, Pharmacist, Retail/Checkout Clerk, Telemarketer, Transportation/Driver, and Other.
Who's afraid of AI?
The Genesys findings reveal that U.S. employees working in Education/Training and as Doctor/Nurse/Caregivers are the least afraid that AI/bots will take their jobs within the next 10 years. The most afraid? The Media and those with Assembly Line/Manufacturing jobs.
Human Resources employees, who should have the pulse on employment trends, identified Data Entry and Retail/Checkout jobs as the most likely to be replaced by AI, and equally at risk. Employees working in Customer Service tend toward pessimism, selecting the jobs of Retail/Checkout Clerk and Telemarketer as the most likely to suffer from AI.
Surprisingly, Transportation-related jobs, such as drivers, are considered by only 16% of U.S. survey respondents as among the most likely functions to be replaced by AI. This response appears to indicate that participants are not paying close attention to the predicted coming revolution in autonomous vehicles and trucking fleets.
Equally interesting is that in spite of publicity surrounding automated restaurants and robot servers, particularly in Asia, only 17% of U.S. respondents see Food Service jobs in danger of AI. Survey respondents working within Food Service and Transportation themselves ignore negative media coverage and point the finger at Retail/Checkout Clerks and Manufacturing positions as the most threatened.
Just over half (52%) of U.S. employees surveyed express confidence in their skillset for competing in the AI-enabled workplace, but this could change as an equal 52% say they don't feel AI has impacted their jobs — yet.
"The American employees we surveyed have a generally positive view of technology in their workplaces, with 86% affirming its benefits. However, that doesn't make them blind to how artificial intelligence could impact particular industries," said Merijn te Booij, chief marketing officer for Genesys. "The key is that humans and technology must work together. When implemented strategically and balanced with the human touch, AI can elevate the workforce by enabling employees to be more productive, accurate and fulfilled as they are positioned to enjoy the more complex aspects of their work."
The survey uncovers many other interesting insights, including:
Across age groups, U.S. employees agree that Manufacturing and Retail/Checkout Clerks are most at risk, while believing that Paralegals (4%), Insurance Underwriters (5%), and Pharmacists (7%) have the best chance to survive automation.
More part-time U.S. employees (25%) fear AI will take their jobs within 10 years than do full-time workers (18%), although there is no significant difference in attitudes on the specific jobs they think are likely to disappear.
Employees in the largest companies, with more than 20,000 staff, are slightly less afraid (17%) than the overall group (19%) of the effect of AI/bots on their jobs within the next 10 years, possibly because they have already experienced its negative impact (10%) and see a more stable future.
The responses of U.S. employees line up very closely to the opinions held by U.S. employers surveyed separately by Genesys, who also found the four jobs most threated by AI to be Data entry, Manufacturing, Retail/Checkout Clerk and Telemarketer. The only notable difference was that more employers (52%) selected Data Entry as their top choice, compared to 37% of the employees.