Tech workers fear their jobs will be automated in wake of coronavirus2 min read . Updated: 29 May 2020, 02:24 PM IST
- Concern about automation among tech workers exceeds that in other industries, KPMG says
Technology-sector employees are particularly worried about being replaced by automation, including tools used by employers to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to KPMG LLP.
An estimated 67% of workers at U.S. technology companies are concerned about losing their jobs to digital capabilities powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic software, KPMG said in a report Friday. That compares with 44% among workers at companies outside the tech sector.
Beyond automation, 70% of tech-sector workers are worried about having their jobs eliminated as a result of the economic fallout from the crisis, compared with 57% of workers employed by companies in other industries.
The results are based on a survey of 1,000 full-time and part-time workers across a range of industries, including 223 employed in the tech sector, the firm said. The survey was conducted in April.
Technology workers’ fears could be a harbinger for the broader labor market in the aftermath of the pandemic, as tech company trends often spread across the corporate world over time, said KPMG tech-industry practice leader Tim Zanni.
“Workers in the tech industry are closer to the technology and thus have a unique understanding, more so than other industries, of technology and its capabilities," said Mr. Zanni.
He said workers at technology firms see emerging digital capabilities in early stages of development and are more likely to be thinking of the impact of these tools on their jobs.
U.S. technology firms shed a record 112,000 jobs in April, erasing total job gains over the past year, according to an analysis of Labor Department data by IT trade group CompTIA.
The nation’s tech sector employs roughly 6 million workers, including tech professionals, as well as people in sales, marketing, human resources and other positions. Together they account for an estimated 4% of the total U.S. workforce, CompTIA says.
Jobs in the area of artificial intelligence, an increasingly key element of automation, are proving to be more resilient.
Technology market research firm International Data Corp. estimates that AI jobs globally could increase by as much as 16% this year, reaching more than 950,000. The gains are being driven by strong demand for AI capabilities as companies contend with the aftermath of the pandemic, IDC says.
It estimates that 40% of companies world-wide are increasing their use of automation as a response to the pandemic, often following the lead of tech firms involved in the development of these capabilities.
Automation displaced workers at companies in a range of sectors in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 financial crisis, according to a report by tech-industry research firm Forrester Research Inc. The trend slowed down the labor-market recovery in the wake of the crisis, with overall employment taking nearly two years to rebound, the report said.
“We believe that hyper automation is where the market is headed," said Daniel Dines, chief executive of robotic process automation maker UiPath Inc. The New York-based company is already adding roughly 10 corporate customers a day, a faster clip than 2019, Mr. Dines said.
He believes AI-enabled automation will create new higher-tiered jobs, as software tools take over mundane, repetitive tasks, such as processing paperwork or managing emails, and enable employees to be more productive in other areas.