Manila (The Philippines): Countries in Southeast Asia should consider developing industry transformation maps in key sectors to enable the transition to the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) with adequate investment in skills development for new and repositioned jobs, according to a new study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
“The future of jobs is at the heart of development in Asia and the Pacific,” said Director General of ADB’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department Woochong Um.
“While jobs have been lost to automation in recent years, new jobs will emerge as new and disruptive technologies are adopted. Now is the time to invest in skills development that will help displaced workers acquire the abilities necessary to move into new jobs and help job-seekers access quality jobs for greater prosperity,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
The study assesses two industries in each country deemed important for growth, employment, and 4IR. Based on employer surveys, the study reports large potential returns to businesses arising from productivity increases from 4IR technologies.
By 2030, there is likely to be a positive net impact in all industries analysed with more jobs created than displaced. Although a third of agro-processing jobs in Vietnam may be displaced, for example, substantial net job creation of 34 per cent is possible.
There could also be net increases of 39 per cent for garments in Cambodia, 14 per cent for food and beverage manufacturing in Indonesia and 11 per cent for IT-business process outsourcing (BPO) in the Philippines.
“The findings of the study point towards a clear path for the future in Southeast Asia,” said ADB Director General for Southeast Asia Ramesh Subramaniam.
“While the region may face challenges in moving the displaced workers into new jobs due to inadequate skills, we are confident that countries will design appropriate policies and invest in workforce skills particularly to accelerate the post-pandemic recovery. We must do everything possible to ensure that no one is left behind.”
Employers in all industries surveyed stressed the importance of skills in the context of disruptive technologies. Together, they could need an additional 169 million people trained by 2030 to prepare for the transition to 4IR.
The study recommends strengthening on-the-job training and skills development for the jobs of tomorrow.
It calls for developing industry-led technical and vocational education and training programs with dedicated credentials for 4IR, and flexible and modular skills certification programmes that recognise skills attainment outside of traditional education channels.
While the coronavirus disease pandemic is accelerating digital transformation, the study finds that companies deploying 4IR technologies are likely to recover faster from the disruptions caused by the pandemic and be more resilient in the future.