Forecast: 60 million APAC Jobs lost to Automation by 2040

A declining working population and rising costs to hire and retain employees will force firms in Asia Pacific to invest more in automation.
Global research firm Forrester is forecasting that working populations in the five largest economies in Asia Pacific – India, China, South Korea, Australia, and Japan – are more at risk due to physical robot automation than Europe and North America.

It says that by 2040, 63 million jobs are expected to be lost to automation, with more than 247 million jobs expected to be in jeopardy across industries that are more susceptible to automation, such as construction and agriculture.

According to Forrester’s Future of Jobs Forecast, 2020 To 2040 (India, China, South Korea, Australia, And Japan), in the coming years, the green economy will help offset some job losses as more countries commit to carbon neutrality.

A statement from Forrester says that India, China, South Korea, Australia, and Japan will create 28.5 million new jobs in renewable energy, green buildings, smart cities and smart infrastructure, and professional services by 2040.

“But even with the creation of new jobs in areas such as the green economy and ICT industries, 13.7 million jobs in the region will be lost to automation across wholesale, retail, transport, accommodation and leisure sectors.”

Forrester says that each country faces different challenges. Key highlights include:

  • Australia: Similar to the US, Australia’s high GDP per worker incentivises firms to automate jobs to improve productivity and reduce labour costs. Australia will see 11 percent of jobs lost to automation by 2040. Jobs across consulting, scientific, and technical services, which are harder to automate, will see the fastest growth, especially in the ICT industry.
  • China: By 2040, China will see its working population decline by 11 percent, and seven percent of jobs will be lost to automation. Job growth in the ICT industry will help offset automation job losses, with 3.8 million additional new jobs created by 2040.
  • ndia: India, which has a relatively young workforce, will add 160 million new workers over the next 20 years, reaching a working population of 1.1 billion by 2040. Although 69 percent of India’s jobs are under threat from automation, the country’s main priority will be job creation to accommodate new workers entering the workforce.
  • Japan: Due to an ageing workforce and the country’s low birth rate, between 2020 and 2040, Japan’s working population will contract by 19 percent. By 2050, it is forecasted to decline by almost one-third.
  • South Korea: Driven by its ageing working population and its dependency on the construction and agriculture industries, which are more susceptible to automation, South Korea’s workforce will contract by 23 percent over the next 20 years.
Michael O’Grady, principal forecast analyst at Forrester, says that to prepare for the changes brought on by automation, the five largest economies in APAC will have to radically rethink their workforce strategies.

“While each economy faces its own challenges, common focus areas such as hiring more female workers can help offset working population declines. In addition, investing in STEM education, technology workforce training, and protecting the rights of freelance workers will become of utmost importance.”


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