It is said that 65% of children in primary school today will have jobs that currently do not exist because of the 4th Industrial Revolution or what we call Industry 4.0. How prepared are we in this revolution?

Last November 15-16, 2018, a regional conference on reducing youth unemployment was held in Jakarta, Indonesia. The ASEAN’s Response to the Future of Work in Digital Economy was attended by representatives of ministry in charge of manpower/labor; micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises; education; and employers and trade union organizations.

During the opening session, Ms. Michiko Miyamoto, ILO Director for Indonesia and Timor Leste, addressed that rapid technological changes requires measures from policy makers to moderate disruptions to the world of work. Adjustment needs to be made and challenges need to be addressed to maintain the employment outcome and to ensure that decent work is available, especially to young people.

youth-future-of-work-digital-economy-book-launchingAlso, the ILO and Switzerland launched a publication titled “Labour Market Policy in ASEAN 2010-2015” which corresponded well with the theme of the conference.

Below is a short reflection on the conference:

Labour market policy in ASEAN

Digital technology impacts on the rise of non-standard forms of work and informalities. Based on the labor market inventory, policy-makers have made significant efforts to address some of the main decent work challenges in the region. Significant share of policies aimed at improving skills development, strengthening workers’ rights and expanding coverage of social protection mechanisms.

ASEAN in transformation

An ILO survey in 2016 generally depicts positive outlook of young people who are looking forward to Industry 4.0 because of technology. However, high fix capital costs, availability of skilled workers and licensing costs are some barriers for technological advancement in ASEAN. Soft skills are increasingly important in the era of digitalization. Skills that help to create a business case, market and manage technologies, creativity, social skills (interaction, care) are some of the soft skills that young people need to have.

MSMEs and employment trends

youth-future-of-work-digital-economy-panelOne of the challenges facing employers is finding qualified talent across many developed and emerging markets, and ASEAN member states are at varying degree of readiness for the future of production and lagging in human capital areas. Public and private sector collaboration is needed in building an inclusive ecosystem for reskilling of workforce. As SMEs employ 60-70% of workers and create more than 80% of jobs in emerging economy, engaging SMEs in re-skilling program is crucial to ensure the success of the broad-based reskilling.

The 4th Industrial Revolution is inevitable. We need to prepare for it. The government, employers and workers should work together for the benefit of the next generation. By Robert Ivan Herrera, Co-Chair, ATUC Youth and Women Committee