As graduation nears for many college students, the job hunt is officially on. And, as if the pressure to land that first gig weren’t high enough, today’s grads are now facing competition from a new quarter: robots. While these bots may not be a physical presence in the office just yet, advanced automation and artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to take over some—perhaps many—of the jobs that human workers hold today. With automation on the verge of mass adoption across many industries, how can workers make sure they have the skills necessary to keep their jobs, and succeed in them, in the face of automated competition?

The threat is real

According to a recent study commissioned by MindEdge Learning, the threat to existing jobs is real. Nearly half (42 percent) of company managers believe that automation and robotics will lead to a net loss of jobs in their respective industries, while only 18 percent say that automation will help to create jobs.

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Our study, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. managers (or those of higher rank) about the rise of robotics and AI in the workplace, found that the level of concern about potential job losses is much higher at companies that have already automated. Fully 52 percent of managers at such companies say their workers are worried about job losses; by contrast, at firms that have not yet adopted automation, a mere 15 percent of managers say their employees are worried about their job security. These findings strongly suggest that employees at non-automated firms are seriously underestimating technology’s eventual threat to their livelihoods.

But it isn’t all bad news. The survey also shows that managers have a clear sense of the type of worker who won’t be supplanted by robotics and advanced automation. So the challenge for new grads and all other job candidates is to become that type of worker. How? It all boils down to having the right combination of skills.

About the Author:

Frank Connolly brings more than three decades of experience in journalism and politics to his role as director of research at MindEdge Learning, where he oversees the company’s public-opinion polling and related projects. An award-winning columnist and editor in alternative media, he later spent more than 20 years as a political consultant and pollster, advising candidates for President, U.S. Senator, Governor, and other offices. In addition to his research role, he also manages curriculum design and content creation for a variety of courses, as one of the company’s senior editors.

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