70% of job seekers think automation skills are the key to finding a new position


A new Harris Poll finds that Americans looking to gain an edge are trying to bolster their CV credentials with the most in-demand skills.

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There are 30 million unemployed Americans. A new Harris Poll commissioned by Zapier found that two out of five workers say they were let go by their employer due to COVID-19. At least 70% of current job seekers—those unemployed or employed and looking—believe the key to landing a new job is automation. The number is even higher (86%) among those with a college degree or higher.

According to the survey, “The Job Seekers Report,” 30% have added automation to their resumes, while 31% said they planned to do so. With so many job-seekers adding to their skill set with the key word “automation,” the Zapier survey queried, “is it possible employers will notice the omission?”

SEE: Managing AI and ML in the enterprise 2020: Tech leaders increase project development and implementation (TechRepublic Premium)

It makes sense that many Americans are looking to develop new skills or hone-in on existing ones—they’re competing with the 41% who lost jobs due to the pandemic, and those also unemployed, as well as those who have jobs but need or want to make a change. 

A majority (83%) either have learned automation skills or planned to do so in the near future. The need and desire for efficiency could be from the need to maximize crucial, available time. Work hours invariably come at the expense of those in the home who are remote-learning or those tasked with helping or even teaching those remote learners. 

Many are still working remotely, with offices closed, and are burdened with the uncertainty of when and if they’ll return to their offices. Many businesses have already declared a switch to all remote, a virtual office.

Those surveyed find the biggest benefits of automation are:

  • Makes you more efficient—42%
  • Helps you save time—42%
  • Allows you to get more done in a day—37%
  • Helps you be a better employee—35%
  • Saves you frustration on tedious tasks—29%
  • Helps you concentrate on important tasks—26%
  • Saves you from having to learn technical skills—24%

Automation skills are valued across a swath of industries and projects, including the obvious (and popular) robotics, mobile phones, healthcare, entertainment, manufacturing, education, product delivery, transportation, DevOps, IT Ops, software testing, home-help products, and more.

It’s not only Zapier finding the rise of automation. As TechRepublic reported in May, automation could lead to another jobless recovery, according to Forrester. The firm’s report, “The COVID-19 Crisis Will Accelerate Enterprise Automation Plans,” indicated how critical automation will be to companies looking to “lower their exposure to future business disruption.”

Leslie Joseph, author of the Forrester report, said: “[A]utomation is a very big motion within most of the large SI’s and consulting firms, who are aggressively upskilling their manpower. In fact, many SI’s with large automation practices began with aggressively applying automation to their own internal delivery and back-office function, at significant scale.”

The article in TechRepublic noted, “Another caveat that may lead to fewer job losses is the expectation that large-scale automation of business processes and routine, repetitive tasks will not necessarily lead to large-scale job replacement.”

Joseph told TechRepublic: “Automation is not just like any standard technology implementation. It requires significant participation and support from the existing workforce. Successful automation leaders will bring their people along on the journey. This will include elements of reskilling of people whose jobs are sidelined by bots, to bring them back into helping run and manage the automation program itself.”

Methodology: Harris conducted the poll of 2,069 US adults, 18 or older, online between July 14 to July 16.

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