While many discussions on the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation have focused on jobs and the workforce in general, HR departments must also be prepared for big changes ahead.
The Impact of AI on HR Strategies
A 2018 survey from the software company CIPHR has revealed that over half of HR professionals expect automation to have an immediate impact on their strategic approach.
Concerns about the impact of AI and automation add to the ongoing issue of a skills shortage in the UK. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has reported that, due to the skills shortage, one in four UK jobs were unfilled in 2016.
“This challenge is only going to grow as automation and AI make further inroads into industry, and manufacturing especially. This is a rapidly evolving environment for business.”
Narrowly focusing on protecting existing jobs is going to be inadequate.
“Many of today’s schoolchildren will eventually be working in jobs that don’t yet exist, therefore, a preoccupation with robots taking current jobs lacks the necessary vision to develop HR strategies for the future”
Concerns about the disappearance of manual, repetitive, time consuming tasks are understandable, but HR must look at the longer-term benefits of changes in how people work and the training that will allow them to do this.
The Broader View
An estimate from PwC is that 30% of existing UK jobs could be affected by AI and automation.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean they will all disappear, but rather that some of these jobs will change. The key thing for HR professionals will be to prepare workers for this change.”
This means a focus on learning and development.
“There will need to be a move away from emphasising only the skills you’ll need to do your current job, towards learning skills for what you’ll be doing in a couple of years’ time. Learning and development must make a shift towards anticipating industry’s future needs alongside its current requirements.”
“Many companies have a commitment to continuous improvement of their employees as a clearly stated part of their overall ethos so it may be a case of extending this further, to embrace parts of the economy that may not presently seem as specialised”
“It’s about a cultural shift. For people in HR, they will need to take a detailed look at how flexible the economy is, what this means for future workforce planning and training, and how they can make things more modifiable.”
The spread of AI and automation is steady, and will become more rapid with technological advances. The task for industry and for HR professionals supporting it, is to keep pace with change but also to ensure the workforce is properly prepared for the future.
“AI keeps moving forward, and to avoid being left in its wake, we must all consider how we become part of this revolution, rather than be victims of it.”
For an additional read, please visit