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Asia’s policymakers must prepare today for the jobs of tomorrow

20 0 5

Technology optimists argue that progress creates many more jobs than it destroys. They say fears over job losses are as misplaced as the Luddites’ 19th century concerns over the loss of jobs like horse-and-buggy driver, or loom weaver.

More recently, the automated teller machines (ATMs) also support this view, since the machines haven’t replaced bank tellers, but broadened their roles into customer relationship managers.

Certainly, the skyscrapers of Manila and Mumbai are filled with people doing new jobs that have moved them from poverty into the middle class. The last two decades have seen a wave of new professional jobs in developing Asia, from research analysts to programmers, environmental scientists and data engineers.

But in many cases, even well-paid, new jobs are under threat. Not from technology itself, though artificial intelligence and high-performance robots are a challenge.

Rather, policies are lagging the changes in industry at large. For Asian countries to overcome the threat to their progress, policymakers must work with the full range of stakeholders from employers to educators to workers and unions, and focus on ensuring relevant education and labour regulation.

Take the example of the Philippines. In less than 15 years, the country has built a thriving business process outsourcing (BPO) sector with over a million well-paid clerical jobs, that........

© South China Morning Post