137 Million Southeast Asian Workers Could Lose Their Jobs to Automation in the Next 20 Years

Even the current price advantage of cheap labor may not be enough to save them—automation will be cheaper.

7. 7. 16 by Cecille De Jesus
REUTERS
Image by REUTERS

A study conducted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that in the next 20 years, more than half of the workers in five Southeast Asian countries are highly likely to lose their jobs to automation—most specifically in the garment industry.

South China Morning Post

The countries on the danger list are Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, where 137 million workers are at high risk of being laid off in favor of technology. This number constitutes 56% of these countries’ salaried labor force, with workers in textiles, clothing, and footwear sectors being at the highest risk of being replaced by automated machines.

Sadly, as automation starts to become dominant, certain skills become obsolete, even when their costs were supposedly low enough. “Countries that compete on low-wage labour need to reposition themselves—price advantage is no longer enough,” said Deborah France-Massin, director for the ILO’s bureau for employers’ activities. 

“Robots are becoming better at assembly, cheaper and increasingly able to collaborate with people,” the ILO said.

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