Despite industry leaders arguing that automation will not take over the majority of human jobs, 30 per cent of Canadian women still fear they will lose their jobs within the next decade thanks to artificial intelligence and automation, according to a survey from Randstad Canada. 

The recent survey found that women across all sectors, including manufacturing, IT and retail, believe that continuing advances in technology will lead to job losses within a decade.

Those employed in manufacturing are feeling the most pressure, with 62 per cent of respondents believing they face the greatest risk of job loss. Even women working in IT don’t feel immune, with 29 per cent of those surveyed predicting changes.

A key aspect to this, however, is concern over age. “[It] is seen as a distinct disadvantage; 38 per cent of Baby Boomers have the greatest risk of losing their jobs due to technology, compared to 21 per cent for Gen Xers and just 13 per cent for Millenials,” says the report.

Employer responsibility

Employees also feel that employers have a responsibility to protect their positions. Randstad says there is an “overwhelming consensus that employers have a responsibility to assist the employee, 65 per cent believe the employee should be offered a different role within the same organization and 49 per cent also believe employers should offer retraining.”

But women aren’t sitting idly by. Almost two-thirds of Canadian women see themselves as risk-takers and innovators in the workplace, according to the survey, and almost half of women studying in universities and colleges are “specializing in a field that will prepare them for technological disruption in the workplace.”

The study suggests having women in leadership roles is another way to help protect from job loss. In its report, Randstad says, “having more women in positions of authority and influence is seen as the best means of ensuring women are encouraged to be innovators and put forward new ideas.”

“Canadian women see themselves as innovators and risk-takers, they’re less risk-averse than employers may think, which is good news as the workplace evolves. The creativity and flexibility that come with an innovative mindset will be important for both employees and employers in the next decade,” says Carolyn Levy, president of technologies for Randstad Canada.

She went on to state that while the majority of people may see the ability to adapt to new technology as the most important skill over the next decade, “Canadians need to remember that behind the technology there will still be people. An agile mindset, which includes working collaboratively, embracing inclusivity and creative problem-solving will be the skills that set workers apart.”

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