A potential employment crisis driven by artificial intelligence (AI) looms over the UK, with 40 percent of office workers expressing concerns that AI could replace their jobs.
However, a significant majority of these workers, approximately two-thirds, are uncertain about the skills required to thrive in an evolving job market dominated by AI.
These findings are part of a recent study conducted by LHH, a global leader in talent development and career solutions, shedding light on the anxieties and challenges faced by the UK workforce in the wake of AI’s increasing influence on employment.
LHH’s research unveiled a deep-seated unease among respondents, with 45 percent worrying that their skills might not be up to par for future job opportunities.
Additionally, 59 percent expressed a desire to acquire new skills to advance their careers but lacked a clear understanding of how to achieve this goal. Amid the ongoing economic uncertainty, a remarkable 63 percent of workers are contemplating a job change, with 19 percent specifically considering a switch to acquire new skills.
JC Townend, President of the Adecco Group and CEO at LHH Career Transition & Mobility for UK&I, commented on the findings, saying:
“It’s evident that the specter of AI displacing workers is casting a shadow over UK employees this summer. Fueled by media hype and uncertainty, many are questioning the prospects of their careers in the coming years. However, this moment could be a time of genuine opportunity, as new roles and requirements continue to emerge. Instead of fearing AI, people should embrace it. AI-equipped automation technology could offer businesses a solution to alleviate workforce pressures.”
Despite these concerns, a staggering 65 percent of respondents disclosed that they had not engaged in career development discussions with their managers in the past 12 months. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 61 percent expressed anxiety about the state of the economy and the recent spate of layoffs and redundancies. Additionally, 40 percent feared potential layoffs by their current employers.
Workloads are intensifying as well, with two-thirds (67%) of respondents reporting increased workloads due to recent resignations and hiring freezes. A considerable 75 percent indicated that their work culture demanded going above and beyond at all times.
JC Townend continued, “In light of these results, the primary challenge facing businesses today lies in their leadership and development initiatives. It is clear that office workers require more guidance and support for nurturing their careers and enhancing their skillsets, an area where employers are evidently struggling.”
“Employees find themselves at a crucial crossroads, and businesses cannot simply rely on the hope that employees will forge their own paths, especially as traditional career trajectories become obsolete. One CHRO I spoke with mentioned discontinuing the publication of career paths because they were becoming outdated as quickly as they were being drafted. The best approach is to empower employees to become proactive in their careers, preparing themselves for their company’s future roles and using job-landing skills to achieve internal mobility. If companies lack the time or expertise for this, I recommend bringing in external experts who can provide these skills without overburdening HR and managers. Companies that equip their employees with these skills are more likely to engage and retain them, ultimately benefiting as employees find innovative ways to contribute to the company and fill the jobs of the future.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.