Is the future of HR admin roles in automation?

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While automation will have an adverse effect on those in HR admin roles, HR managers and leaders have relatively secure positions due to them being responsible for managing the rise of technology within the industry.

Official data that has been released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) stating that more than half of administrative roles within HR are at risk of automation within the future.

The ONS conducted research in order to discover and quantify which roles and functions were most endangered by technological change. The research found that 58% within HR administrative positions could be at risk of having their job automated, as well as 40% of people within HR and industrial relations officer positions could lose their job to automation.

On the other hand people in positions of seniority within HR, such as managers and leaders, are relatively secure in their job roles with just 28% of roles being vulnerable to technological advances in automation. This is in line with trends among the economy, that higher level jobs are more secure.

Within the ONS a role is considered to be at high risk when the chance of automation is 70% or greater, although it does not specify a time period for this to take place.

A senior adviser for organisational behaviour at the CIPD, Jonny Gifford, stated that his research showed that nothing was inevitable when it came to the increasing usage of technology and the world of work, and that it was crucial for employers to think about the way in which they were using technology and the effects of it on people within their organisations. Gifford stated, “employers need to link business priorities and strategy with effective people strategies like considering the impact of augmentation on recruitment, skills gaps in the workplace and how we motivate and upskill our existing workforce”.

In the general economy, ONS data showed that 1.5 million jobs were at high risk of being automated within England, or some of the duties within the job role were at risk. The job roles that were regarded the most at risk to automation were, waitresses and waiters, shelf stackers and shop floor sales staff. However, the jobs that were regarded as the safest from the rise of automation were, teaches, doctors, nurses and higher education staff.

However, the ONS emphasised that their data does not show that ‘robots are taking over’, only that routine and more basic tasks can be carried out more quickly and effectively by technology that can be programmed in a certain way to complete the task at hand. This is why lower skill roles are at higher risk of being automated.

Further analysis by the ONS showed that 70% of roles at high risk of automation were held by women, and that people aged between 20 and 24 were most likely to have their jobs replaced by automation than any other age group.

Additionally, the risk of roles being taken over by automation decreased for older workers, and is lowest for workers aged between 35 and 39, where only 1% of roles are at high risk.

The ONS have stated that this pattern could be explainable due to the fact that as people get older they naturally acquire more skills and become more knowledgeable about the field that they are working in. Additionally, younger workers often start in less skilled job roles such as retail and sales where the chance of automation is highest.

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