Who’s Afraid of Robots? Not Canadians
/ Author: CLAC Staff
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Who’s Afraid of Robots? Not Canadians

Almost 60 percent of Canadians aren’t afraid of being replaced by robots at work, according to a study in Canadian HR Reporter. In fact, 25 percent believe that bots and other technology will help them do their jobs. Only 16 percent believe their jobs will be negatively impacted.

Employers are less optimistic than workers. Half of employers surveyed said that changing technology will require their workers to learn new skills and will change processes. Nine in ten believe that upskilling their workers will be a challenge, and that finding qualified workers will be difficult.

From Robots to Healthcare

Meanwhile, a report from RBC Economics says that some of the over one million Canadians who might lose their jobs to automation have skills that could help fill growing shortages in healthcare. In particular, the report cites that plenty of jobs are available for those with both social and digital skills.

People working in retail or in clerical jobs are at particular risk of having their jobs automated, but with the right training, many could work in healthcare. The report says that of the 370,000 additional healthcare jobs that will be available by 2025, 330,000 workers in other fields at risk of automation have some of the skills needed to do the job. Some of those jobs include processing the vast amounts of data needed in healthcare.

Canada lags behind other countries, such as the US, in investing in healthcare training. A new federal program set to roll out later this year provides workers with a $250 per year tax credit that can be used for eligible training programs. The credit will accumulate over time.

With Canada’s aging population, the report estimates that healthcare spending will rise to $193 billion per year, up from today’s $160 billion. The economy may slow down, but healthcare jobs will be virtually recession-proof.

But they may not be safe from automation. The report says that nearly 20 percent of healthcare jobs are at a high risk of being automated at some point.

Should Women Worry?

While Canadians do not appear concerned about losing their job to a robot, another RBC study paints a different picture for women. Of the 35 percent of jobs deemed at risk due to automation, 54 percent (3.4 million jobs) are performed by women. The report mentions jobs in administration, bookkeeping, and data-entry.

According to report authors Dawn Desjardins, RBC deputy chief economist, and Andrew Agopsowicz, RBC senior economist, “When thinking of disruption, what comes to mind? For many, it’s a male factory worker losing his job to a robotic arm. However, automation is showing up all over the economy, not just in manufacturing. As it makes further inroads into the services sector, women face a higher risk of having their jobs displaced.”

The silver lining for women is that many have skill sets that will serve them well in an increasingly automated economy, such as critical thinking, social perceptiveness, writing, and problem solving. More men are employed in specialized and task-specific jobs where the skills required do not translate well to another job.

Sources: Canadian HR Reporter, The Canadian Press

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