CEOs see automation doing away with their jobs, survey says

Global data network. Image: Pixabay
Automation continues to encroach upon the workplace. (Image: Pixabay)

Nearly 8 in 10 senior managers, including CEOs, believe their jobs will be replaced by automation during their careers, a survey has found.

That’s the highest level among the other employee groups that responded to a poll by online job site ZipRecruiter.

Conversely, the same amount of senior managers, 79%, believe that fears around robots taking away jobs are overhyped.

The seeming contradiction may have to do with senior managers believing they can be retrained and find another career, Cathy Barrera, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, told FierceCEO. ”They may feel they can find some other work.”

In the survey of more than 1,000 U.S. job seekers in the senior, middle management and entry level ranks, 60% believe that fears around robots taking away jobs are overhyped. Yet 7 in 10 who have heard of automation are actively looking for jobs less likely to be automated.

In additional sentiment about drawbacks to technical innovation:

  • Nearly 2 in 3 job seekers (64%) believe workers in most industries will be replaced with computers or robots in their lifetime.
  • Half of job seekers say the introduction of the internet has generally done more harm than good. Employed job seekers are more likely to agree with this sentiment than unemployed job seekers (53% employed vs. 40% unemployed). Barrera said this may be because the internet is allowing work to encroach on personal time.
  • 4 in 5 agree that the current technology boom has left certain people (84%) and cities (78%) behind.
  • While most job seekers have heard of the term "job automationcomputers taking over certain tasksless than 1 in 3 (30%) have an actual understanding of the term, saying they are very familiar with it.

Other survey findings include:

  • 49% of employed job seekers say they "love" or "like" their current job.
  • Women (35%) are twice as likely as men (17%) to "dislike" or "hate" their job.
  • 58% of millennials (ages 18-37) "like" or "love" their job, and 62% say they are "fulfilled," although this doesn’t mean they are against making a move. Millennials’ responses compared with 37% and 34% of gen Xers (ages 38-52) and 25% of baby boomers (ages 53+), respectively.
  • Soft skills, like management, are more common. Some 50% of job seekers reported having science, technology or engineering skills, while 79% of job seekers have soft skills.
  • Some 47% of job seekers have both soft and STEM skills.
  • Affordability is the main hurdle when it comes to workers making investments in new skills; 67% of job seekers who don't currently have these skills but are making an effort to obtain them are relying on self-training to acquire STEM skills (vs. 60% for soft skills).

"Technological job displacement has already begun, and it is essential that America's workforce is prepared to adapt," said Barrera. "In our report, we found that cost was the top reason for not being able to acquire STEM skills or soft skillsthe two sets of skills currently considered safest from automation and the second most cited reason was individuals believing they don't need these skills. This demonstrates how important access to information and training will be in ensuring job seekers don't get left behind."