Workplace automation is not necessarily a death knell for jobs. A recent survey by specialized recruiter Robert Half says 84% of finance executives believe automation can create more jobs rather than replace them.
There will be a shift, however, in the skill sets required. Finance professionals need to focus on problem solving (50%), strategic vision (42%), IT (35%) and commercial acumen (34%)
The survey, conducted in January, involved 100 chief financial officers and finance directors in New Zealand.
Among the finance functions that are either already automated or likely to be automated within three years are data collection (72%), invoicing (67%), data entry (66%), project management reporting (64%), report analysis (62%) and financial report generation (61%).
“It is inevitable – automation may diminish some routine manual roles. However, increased automation in the workplace is there to support employees rather than inhibit them,” said Megan Alexander, general manager of Robert Half New Zealand.
Fortunately, New Zealand businesses are responding quickly and flexibly to automation and digitization, she said. “Automation is about adapting to change rather than eliminating jobs. This provides new opportunities for employees to manage this change as they shift their focus to added-value activities.”
For executives around the world, the sentiment is mixed.
Yet another survey found that employers in newly automated industries are experiencing what experts call “automation angst” and fear that it is happening too fast.
Firms in sectors like IT & Technology and Life Sciences & Healthcare feel overwhelmed and that they are not keeping up with rapid changes, even as they acknowledge the benefits brought by technology.
“The transition to a more automated workplace puts added pressure on employers to find high-skilled talent, and to look for candidates in talent pools that may be unfamiliar to them or may not have even existed 10 years ago,” said Rebecca Henderson, CEO of Randstad Sourceright which commissioned the survey.
Globally, 67 percent of the executives surveyed agreed that increasing automation will shift their talent needs to highly skilled roles.
“Technological change can be overwhelming, but employers should not be relying on technology alone,” Henderson said.
“Human intelligence is not only required to make technology work, it is essential to turn data into meaningful business insights.”