Young people consider artificial intelligence a threat to future employment: Survey

Published March 18, 2019   |   

Add artificial intelligence to the growing list of millennial challenges, along with rising rents and a changing climate. The majority (85 percent) of young people aged 18 to 34 believe artificial intelligence (A.I.) will be a threat to the job market within the next 10 years, and 25 percent believe it’s already an issue. This according to a new survey of more than 1,500 Canadians, conducted by Maru/Matchbox on behalf of Centennial College post-graduate public relations students in partnership with CivicAction, a non-profit organization that creates collective action on big urban challenges.

The survey explored how young people feel about the changing landscape of work and which institutions are taking steps to best prepare for it. The results will be presented tonight at Centennial College’s Story Arts Centre, as students host a CivicDish event, an evening of dinner and discussion.

“Understanding how young people feel about the future of work isn’t a nice to have, it’s a need to know,” says Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO of CivicAction. “Millennials make up the largest percentage of Canada’s workforce at 37 percent and are already shaping our workforce’s relationship with technology and automation.”

The survey showed a relative optimism in millennials’ ability to adapt to the changing work landscape:

  • Even with the impending threat of A.I. to the future job market, young people are still relatively optimistic, with 71 percent of respondents believing they will be able to make a good living throughout the course of their career.
  • Only one-third of young people believe that in 10 years they’ll be working at jobs that haven’t been invented.
  • 37 percent of young people view a shift away from stable full-time work as a positive change, compared to 28 percent of people aged 35-54 and 21 percent of people aged 55+.
  • Approximately three in five young people are confident corporations (60 percent) and post-secondary institutions (61 percent) are taking steps to prepare for the changing landscape of work. Millennials are less confident (38 percent) that government is doing likewise.
  • The top three things young people believe are negatively affecting their employment opportunities: the competitive labor market (60 percent); changing skill set requirements (55 percent); and lack of personal network (53 percent).

“As students who are just about to enter the job market, these results confirm our own experiences and feelings about the impact of automation on our future employment,” says Mary Davidson, one of five public relations students at Centennial College working on the ‘Generation Uncertain’ campaign, created and executed by students for their Storyworks course that has them working with real clients on real issues. “Our generation is concerned about how employment is changing, yet optimistic in our ability to adapt.”