Over the past several years, enterprises have been investing in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance operations and free up employees to focus on more of the value-adding types of work that drive businesses forward. Since the start of the pandemic in particular, digital adoption has accelerated to solve for evolving market conditions, new customer needs and changed employee circumstances. In fact, a new McKinsey study found that 85% of C-suite executives reported a significant acceleration of digitization and automation during the pandemic in an effort to stay agile and maintain continuity amid business disruptions.
Given the increase in automation and AI adoption, UiPath surveyed more than 500 United States (U.S.) professionals in senior positions (C-level executives, directors, managers and vice presidents) to gauge the importance of having employees—even those in non-technical roles—have automation and AI skills. Conducted in October 2020, the survey results underscore how the pandemic has served as an accelerator for digital transformation and shaped the way business leaders regard employees as they prepare for the future of work. Here’s what we learned.
Automation and AI skills can be a major differentiator for candidates, regardless of job function
Nearly half (49%) of executives surveyed “strongly agree” that automation and AI tools will become a necessity for all jobs in the future—even if those jobs don’t have an explicit tech focus. When asked how important it is for employees in non-tech roles to have a working knowledge of automation and AI tools, the top response from executives was “very important” (36%).
When an executive is looking to hire a new candidate, even in a non-technical role, 69% of those surveyed believe it’s important that they have experience with and knowledge of automation and AI tools. In fact, when choosing between two similarly qualified job candidates, 73% will pick the candidate with more experience with automation and AI tools, even if the role does not require those abilities.
Employees with automation and AI skills will increase their career posture
With 44% of executives believing that automation and AI skills can increase employees’ responsibilities and 67% believing that those skills can give employees more career advancement opportunities, it’s in both employers and employees’ best interest to provide upskilling around automation. In fact, this complements office workers’ belief that their employers should be more willing to invest in digital and technology training skills to be successful in the future of work.
As we continue to work in automation-run environments, it’s increasingly important employees have access to education around digital tools. Beyond supporting productivity in response to pressing, COVID-19-prompted demands, equipping employees with the skillsets to action automation tools prepares them to succeed within an evolving world of work. It’s an investment in talent that benefits employees and their organization alike, empowering individuals to develop professionally while increasing overall enterprise efficiencies.
Besides the pandemic, organizations are also facing another disruption to productivity: the looming Silver Tsunami. With the wave of Baby Boomers expected to retire in near future (if they haven’t already in light of COVID-19), there will be a huge talent gap in the workforce that younger generations must quickly adapt to fill. Possessing the skills to effectively use automation will be critical in accomplishing this.
Automation and AI education needs to be prioritized so employees can acquire the skills needed to be successful in the workplace, and upskilling will be a critical component in establishing a fully automated enterprise™.
Before an organization can reap the benefits of becoming an automated enterprise, employees must first recognize automation’s potential and why it’s in their best interest to learn how to use it, as internal enthusiasm can accelerate digital transformation. Parallel to showcasing software’s value, leaders also need to dispel fears around automation making any jobs obsolete, and instead affirm that automation tools work best as a complement to professionals’ daily efforts.
By offering training as an organization and investing in employees’ education, executives can empower internal career advancement while securing loyalty and improving retention. For employers interested in training their teams on automation, check out UiPath Academy.
To learn more about this survey (and results), check out our press release.
Vice President, Global Communications, UiPath