Automation will soon make millions of low-skilled jobs — from cashiers and machine operators to waiters and drivers — redundant across Southeast Asia, experts said Wednesday, warning the region to upskill fast or face huge employment problems.
The topic was center stage at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Hanoi, where warnings abounded that countries including Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand where manufacturing has driven GDP and employed millions would be among the worst affected.
In stark comments, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told the forum technology could spell doom for the “Asian factory model” of growth that has driven his country for recent years.
While richer economies such as Japan and Singapore have embraced so-called “disruptive technologies”, poorer manufacturing hubs are not yet equipped to adapt to rapid change driven by automation.
But they may soon have no choice.
About 6.6 million jobs in Southeast Asia are likely to become “redundant” within a decade due to new tech, according to a study by Cisco and Oxford Economics released on Wednesday at WEF.
To head off crisis among low skilled workers whose economic aspirations have changed in step with their incomes, ASEAN countries must act fast to educate their workforce, delegates warned.
“The ASEAN region has probably got a window of about 10 years during which it has to transition into something more higher value added,” Justin Wood, WEF executive member, told AFP.
“If they haven’t taken the right decisions by the end of 10 years then they will not be globally competitive at all.”
The hardest hit will be “jobs that focus on routine tasks –- including cashiers, typists, machine operators, and clerks” and so are at high risk of automation, Phu Huynh of the International Labor Organization told AFP.
“In Southeast Asia, these jobs are often filled by women and workers with lower qualifications and they in particular are highly vulnerable.” Agence France-Presse
The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ASEAN Trade Union Council.
What They Say About Us
- Working through the ASEAN Trade Union Council (ATUC), a number of labor groups from Southeast Asia have proposed the ASEAN Social Charter, which they see …
- Labour rights do not feature prominently on ASEAN’s agenda, but the ASEAN Trade Union Council (ATUC) is pushing for a social charter and a framework for the protection of migrant workers.
- ASEAN22 : The ASEAN Social Charter was designed by the ASEAN Trade Union Council (ATUC) and labour-friendly NGOs as a social counterpart to ASEAN’s economic
c/o Trade Union Congress of the Philippines
No. 2 Kalaw-Ledesma Circle, Tierra Verde 2, Tandang Sora, Quezon City 1116