Skills Development Crucial for Fourth Industrial Revolution in ASEAN

Southeast Asia will need increased investment in development of employee skills in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a new study carried out by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) showed in January.

The study, completed before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, focused on employers, organizations, and training institutions in four member states of the ASEAN bloc—Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

“It is apparent that COVID-19 is accelerating digital transformation. Companies deploying 4IR technologies are likely to recover faster from heavy disruptions arising from the pandemic and be more resilient in the future,” the ADB said in the foreword to the report.

According to the study, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will create new opportunities for quality jobs in Southeast Asia. Indeed, some jobs would be lost due to automation, but new jobs will emerge, which, the study found, would need the right skills set from employees. Those new jobs are set to increase worker productivity and competitiveness of nations, thereby leading to greater prosperity.

In order to reap the benefits of the 4IR, Southeast Asia should boost investments in skills development, and companies need to upskill their workforce to perform new and higher order roles in complementarity with machines, the ADB study says.  
The adoption of 4IR technologies is set to generate new labor demand.
The study estimates a positive net effect in all sectors analyzed: 39 percent for garments and 2 percent for tourism in Cambodia, 14 percent for food and beverages (F&B) manufacturing and 1 percent for automotive manufacturing in Indonesia, 11 percent for IT-BPO and 10 percent for electronics in the Philippines, and 34 percent for agro-processing and 12 percent for logistics in Vietnam.   

“Now is the time to invest in skills development that will help displaced workers acquire the abilities necessary to move into new jobs and help job-seekers access quality jobs for greater prosperity,” said Director General of ADB’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, Woochong Um, commenting on the study.