Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is defined as: the development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, and rational decision-making. The last year has seen evolution in the functionality of this new technology; we saw all manner of unprecedented achievements, from a robot being granted citizenship, to IBM’s Project Debater, a robot with the power to debate rational arguments.

artificial intelligence

Bearing in mind this rapid pace of development, the rising levels of attention that AI has been garnering from policy makers, politicians and the general public is unsurprising. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee has launched an inquiry into AI and its impact on the UK workforce and AI has formed a cornerstone of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

Headlines

We wanted to understand the attitudes of workers across the UK on Artificial Intelligence in the workplace. Essentially, to change the way people work. The results suggested, a wave of concern running across elements of the workforce around Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its likely impacts on jobs.

UK workers that are worried that AI will disrupt their role within two years
27%
UK workers are confident that their employer would retrain them if AI were to replace their role
33%
UK workers who believe that their manager lacks the skill to integrate AI in to the team.
39%
UK workers who feel that their organisation communicates well when new AI is introduced.
24%

Results by gender

Percentage of workers worried that AI will disrupt their role in the next two years:

Men
30%
Women
25%

Percentage of workers confident that their employer would retrain them if AI were to replace their role:

Women
31%
Men
36%

Percentage of workers who feel their manager lacks the skills required to integrate AI into their team, by gender:

Women
37%
Men
43%

Results by region

Workers that feel that their organisation communicates well when new technology is introduced:

West Midlands
14%
London
34%

Workers confident in the likelihood of their employer retraining them if AI should replace their role, by region:

London
44%
Wales
23%

Percentage of workers who lack faith in their manager having the skill to integrate new AI, by region

North East
49%
South East
32%

Not only did our research seek to identify whether gender might be a factor in how employees feel about AI, we also wanted to ascertain any regional variances in the perceptions of AI and the level of concern over job disruption, existing skill sets and quality of communication. 

Further breakdowns

Beyond gaining insight into how geography and gender might inform worker sentiment around AI, the survey results also suggested that other, more granular factors might have just as much of an impact. For example, age was also shown to be a driver of opinion, with just 16% of 18-24 year olds feeling worried that AI will disrupt their role, a figure more than half of that for 35-44 year olds. Furthermore, whether an employee is working full or part time also influences their level of concern, where half as many part- time workers are worried about their role being disrupted as their full- time counterparts.

Job Level

Workers who feel that their job will be replaced by AI, by job seniority:

Senior managers
50%
Junior staff
24%

 

Workers who believe that their organisation communicates well when new AI is introduced:

Senior managers
43%
Junior staff
15%

Full time/part time

Percentage of workers worried that AI will disrupt their role:

Of full-time workers
30%
Of part-time workers
18%


Percentage of workers confident that their employer would retrain them if AI replaced their role:

Of full-time workers
42%
Of part-time workers
50%

Sector

Highest and lowest level of employee concern over AI disrupting roles, by sector:

Energy & Utilites
59%
Creative Arts & Design
55%
Accountancy, Banking & Finance
46%
Business, Consulting & Management
39%
Information Technology
33%
Engineering & Manufacturing
31%
Transport & Logistics
30%
Healthcare
25%
Retail
24%
Teaching & Education
17%
Public Services & Administration
16%
Leisure, Sport & Tourism
14%

Advice for employers

1. Plan ahead

AI is coming and it has the potential to benefit every workplace. Think about how you can make the best of existing technology and lay the foundations for even more efficient AI.

2. Communication is key

Workers are worried that automation might make them redundant. Talking openly about AI and how you intend to re-train staff will significantly reduce this anxiety.

3. Plan your efficiency gains

Part of making the most of the opportunity presented by AI is taking the time to think about the areas where it would be most beneficial to your organisation. Thinking in this way will also allow you to plan how to up-skill existing workers and maximise the efficiency and productivity gains.

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