The Future of Jobs at Risk of Automation

ASEAN in Transformation

03.09.2019 by SEA-VET Content

Jae-Hee Chang and Phu Huynh


Year of Publication:


The world is experiencing an unprecedented acceleration in technological advancement and implementation. Indeed, profound shifts are taking place – entire sectors are accommodating these innovations, rendering several human-performed occupations redundant. In the near future, these positions may be eliminated entirely. At the same time, other jobs are experiencing a rapid increase in demand, and some occupations are revising the skill sets they traditionally require.

Discussions surrounding this topic are often polarized, with one side expressing excitement for the opportunity to improve product quality and living standards, and opponents voicing grave concern regarding the massive dislocation of jobs. However, a proper grasp of this topic requires a sector-specific understanding, as not all sectors are impacted equally by these advances in technology.

The ILO Bureau for Employers’ Activities (ACT/EMP), together with the ILO Regional Office in Asia and the Pacific (RO - Asia and the Pacific), extensively researched this subject in 2015 and 2016. Drawing from numerous interviews and case studies, the team examined current technological trends in the ASEAN region and how they impact enterprises and workers within five major sectors: automotive and auto parts; electrical and electronic parts; business process outsourcing; textile, clothing and footwear; and retail. Alongside these in-depth sectoral studies, the ILO gathered 4,076 survey responses from ASEAN enterprises in the manufacturing and service industries. Additionally, survey responses from 2,747 university and technical vocational education and training students were also collected, providing insights on the career aspirations and expectations of the next generation of workers.

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