Survey Reveals Students Attitudes Towards The Impact of AI & Automation

A recent Unmudl survey among full-time university students reveals how they feel about the impact of AI and automation on their future careers.

Key Takeaways

A recent Unmudl survey among full-time university students reveals how they feel about the impact of AI and automation on their future careers.

In today's fast-paced world, with technology advancing at lightning speed, it's hard to ignore the growing influence of automation and artificial intelligence. These advancements are making us rethink the value of many things including traditional education and how it prepares us for the future.

Shedding light on the attitudes of full-time university students towards AI and automation, a recent Unmudl survey unveils nuanced perspectives on education's role in navigating an uncertain future.

Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course

Most students believe their chosen field of study is at risk of being “significantly impacted” by automation and AI. 

The survey began by probing students about their perceptions of the susceptibility of their chosen fields to automation and AI. About 60% of respondents expressed concerns that their chosen field of study is at risk of being “significantly impacted” by automation and AI. 

The level of impact anticipated likely has a strong correlation to specific majors chosen. Some of the majors that are expected to be affected the most include data science and analytics, design, accountancy, marketing, and computer science. 

Meanwhile social sciences and humanities, psychology and counseling, education and teaching, fine arts, healthcare professions, and environmental sciences are relatively resilient to automation.

Most students don’t feel their universities are preparing them for the effects of automation

Despite the widespread acknowledgment of the looming threat posed by automation, the survey findings paint a somewhat pessimistic picture of the perceived effectiveness of universities in preparing students for this impending reality. 

The survey showed that 62.4% of respondents felt that their educational institutions fell short in adequately addressing the potential effects of automation on their future careers.

This response may stem from the quick advances in AI over the past couple of years and the difficulty required to keep up with that pace

However, it may also be a result of community colleges, rather than universities, being more agile in responding to the demands of the job market, especially in fields heavily impacted by automation.

This is due to the substantial investment many community and technical colleges have made in developing comprehensive programs to foster technician skills. With the help of employer partnerships, community colleges are building programs that seamlessly complement the operation of automated machinery and robotics. 

These types of hands-on programs are attracting lots of Gen Z students and as reported by NPR, “data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows the number of students enrolled in vocational-focused community colleges increased 16% from 2022 to 2023.”

Embracing Change: The Imperative of Specialized Education

In response to the challenges posed by automation, a significant majority of students displayed a willingness to embrace change by considering additional education or training focused specifically on AI and automation. 

With 67% of respondents expressing interest in enhancing their job prospects through specialized training, it is evident that students recognize the need to equip themselves with the skills necessary to navigate the complexities of an automated workforce.

But where can students look to acquire these skills?

Students can explore various avenues such as vocational schools with specialized programs, community colleges offering relevant courses, and partnerships between educational institutions and industry players providing tailored training programs. 

Online platforms like Unmudl are partnering with employers such as Amazon to design courses that offer this type of specialized training in the form of 10-week courses. Many of these programs are ideally suited for working learners, offering them the flexibility needed to take advantage of these courses.  

Peer Pressure vs. Personal Choice

The survey also delved into the influence of societal expectations on students' educational decisions, particularly concerning the dichotomy between traditional four-year colleges and alternative paths like trade schools. 

The findings reveal that a considerable portion of respondents (62.8%) felt pressure from parents or peers to pursue a four-year college education. 

This echoes the societal bias towards conventional educational pathways, potentially stifling alternative avenues better suited to individual aptitudes and aspirations. Often, it's not the student who requires persuasion that vocational trades are a viable option, but rather the parents who need reassurance.

As awareness grows among parents about the booming trends in technician jobs, which are often resilient to AI-driven job replacement, these roles are likely to be increasingly perceived as viable options, potentially leading to the breakdown of associated stigmas.

Value Proposition: Assessing the Cost of Education

Finally, the survey sought to gauge students' satisfaction with the overall value of their college education in light of recent trends in automation and AI. 

Despite not feeing that universities are adequately preparing them for the effects of automation, a majority of respondents expressed varying degrees of satisfaction with the overall value of their college education in relation to the cost. However, a notable proportion (about 30%) voiced dissatisfaction with the perceived value of their education relative to its cost. 

There are real difficulties in evaluating the value of education before entering the workforce, but this data shows that despite the limitations in being prepared for automation, students still feel like they are getting value from their education.

Final word

The findings of this survey offer valuable insights into the attitudes and perceptions of college students towards AI and automation. 

As the workforce continues to evolve in response to technological advancements, it is imperative for educational institutions to adapt their curricula and support systems to empower students to thrive in an increasingly automated world. While students show an overall satisfaction towards the value of their education, the majority of students do not feel their universities are adequately preparing them for the effects of automation and they would be interested in additional training geared specifically towards better preparing them for the effects of AI in the workforce.

It’s also important for prospective college students and their parents or guardians to take an honest look at which educational paths may make the most sense for the student, even if there are lingering stigmas around hands-on work and blue collar jobs. These jobs may, afterall, provide students with a more secure future in a world of rapid AI advancement.   

Survey conducted May 2024 and it consisted of 255 full-time, four-year college students.. Margin of error +/- 7%.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course

More Articles