job loss due to automation

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On the bright side, the rise of the green economy is expected to help offset some job losses as more countries commit to carbon neutrality. 

About 63mn jobs are expected to be lost due to automation in the Asia Pacific region by 2040, per Forrester's Future Of Jobs Forecast, 2020 To 2040 (India, China, South Korea, Australia, And Japan). Meanwhile, more than 247mn jobs are expected to be in jeopardy across industries that are more susceptible to automation, such as construction and agriculture.

This grim forecast comes amidst challenges such as a declining working population and rising costs to hire and retain employees that are being faced in the five economies studied for this research, i.e. India, China, South Korea, Australia, and Japan. As a result, companies are expected to be forced to invest more in physical robot automation. 

Overall, the APAC economies studied were found to be more at risk of job loss than Europe and North America.  

On the bright side, the rise of the green economy is expected to help offset some job losses as more countries commit to carbon neutrality. India, China, South Korea, Australia, and Japan are expected to create 28.5mn new jobs in renewable energy, green buildings, smart cities and smart infrastructure, and professional services by 2040.

"But even with the creation of new jobs in areas such as the green economy and information and communications technology (ICT) industries, 13.7mn jobs in the region will be lost to automation across wholesale, retail, transport, accommodation, and leisure sectors," Forrester's report noted.

The following are some highlights from each market surveyed.

Australia. Similar to the US, Australia's high GDP per worker incentivises firms to automate jobs to improve productivity and reduce labour costs. Australia will see 11% of jobs lost to automation by 2040. Jobs across consulting, scientific, and technical services, which are harder to automate, will see the fastest growth, especially in the ICT industry. However, overseas migration will help Australia increase its working population by 23%.

China. By 2040, China will see its working population decline by 11%, and 7% of jobs will be lost to automation. Job growth in the ICT industry will help offset automation job losses, with 3.8mn additional new jobs created by 2040. In fact, China, the world’s second largest AI market behind the US, is expected to capture almost half of ICT professional worker job growth in the region.

India. India, which has a relatively young workforce with an average age of 38, will add 160mn new workers over the next 20 years, reaching a working population of 1.1bn by 2040. In addition, India’s labour force participation rate, which measures the share of the working-age population currently working, has dropped to just 41%. Although 69% of India's jobs are under threat from automation, the country's main priority will be job creation to accommodate new workers entering the workforce.

Japan. Due to an ageing workforce and the country's low birth rate, between 2020 and 2040, Japan's working population will contract by 19%. By 2050, it is forecasted to decline by almost one-third.

South Korea. Driven by its aging working population and its dependency on the construction and agriculture industries, which are more susceptible to automation, South Korea's workforce will contract by 23% over the next 20 years.

Michael O'Grady, Principal Forecast Analyst at Forrester, said: "To prepare for the changes brought on by automation, the five largest economies in APAC will have to radically rethink their workforce strategies." 

While each economy faces its own challenges, he suggests the following broad actions to be taken:

  • Hiring more female workers can help offset working population declines,
  • Investing in STEM education as well as in technology workforce training, and
  • Protecting the rights of freelance workers.

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