Multinational technology conglomerate, Cisco and Oxford Economics, a firm that specializes in global forecasting and qualitative analysis have released a new study at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN 2018 in Hanoi, that says Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines are the top three countries in Southeast Asia that will face severe Artificial Intelligence (AI) related employment challenges in the future.
Naveen Menon, ASEAN Regional Director for Cisco said the study looked into the impact of AI on businesses and industries in the ASEAN countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. A total of 430 jobs in 21 different industries were looked at in order to project the potential impacts of AI during the next 10 years.
The report findings were that AI would affect 28 million workers out of a projected workforce of 630 million people in the six countries. The countries that will be see the greatest disruption in jobs will be Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines. Other countries that are less affected are Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar were not included in the report.
Among the 28 million workers, 6.6 million workers will become "redundant" in the next 10 years. According to the survey, these people will have three options: switch jobs, learn new job skills or look for jobs in a different country. Cisco’s Menon said: “For instance, manpower in the Philippines would have to relocate to Vietnam since some particular jobs are no longer needed there.”
Luong Thi Le Thuy, CEO of Cisco Vietnam, said that industries need to be aware of how AI will change their companies and businesses and that they should understand how to apply technology to overcome the challenges of business in a new 4.0 era and grab new opportunities.
Ms. Luong said that Vietnam has been an attractive destination for international investors in previous years because of low labor costs. However, technologies of the future could change this advantage in the next five to 10 years since the majority of Vietnamese workers are still unskilled and AI and robotic systems will be able to replicate most “manual labor” processes used in manufacturing and other industries.
Counties that embrace the coming Industry 4.0 era and empower companies to upgrade their technologies will be in a better position to compete against countries and companies with lower levels of technology adoption and weaker human resources.
At an education symposium held at RMIT University in July, education experts discussed how they could upgrade Vietnam’s education curriculum to teach students the job skills needed in the “Business 4.0” era. A variety of speakers discussed how the government needs to be a driver of reform and that the Vietnamese government needs to take a proactive approach to education that will affect the current unskilled labor force and students who will be the drivers of Vietnam’s economic future.
Speakers at the WEF event in Hanoi stressed that governments and businesses across the region need to take a proactive approach and create immediate timelines for expansion and upgrade otherwise they can expect to face major disruptions as soon as 2020. Whether governments and industry are listening to the WEF message will be seen in the very near future.