India most vulnerable, least prepared for automation in Asia Pacific
Technology

India most vulnerable, least prepared for automation in Asia Pacific

Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) released The Future of Work is Now: Is APAC Ready? research study by Deloitte, commissioned by Autodesk Foundation. Exploring the state of automation and the future of work across 12 APAC countries including Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, the report aims to help identify the labour markets most vulnerable to technological disruption in APAC and propose solutions to help workforces thrive as automation becomes a reality.

The research finds India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are most at risk and least prepared for the coming wave of automation. In particular, India ranks fifth highest in terms of the impact from automation and ninth in terms of their level of preparedness for this impact. The country faces a greater likelihood of being impacted by automation due to larger employment shares in agriculture, manufacturing, and construction, all identified as high-risk industries by the report.

Covid 19 has greatly accelerated the adoption of automation across the world. According to the report, close to half of all businesses intend to increase their adoption of robotic process automation over the next year.

“Automation creates opportunities for new, more meaningful types of work as it replaces mundane or repetitive manual tasks, but the state of preparedness of countries and industries will determine whether they benefit from these advances. Improving digital literacy, supporting disadvantaged workers, and putting in place the right infrastructure and skills will help create new roles that workers can transition into,” said Rajeev Mittal, Regional Director, India and SAARC, Autodesk.

Construction, agriculture and mining most at risk of automation

Construction
Though India’s construction sector is most likely to be automated, its construction sector is the fifth most vulnerable, ahead of Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Myanmar and the Philippines, respectively due to these countries' greater extent of disadvantage. With a high proportion of routine and manual tasks and low year-on-year global productivity growth (1%, over the past 20 years to 2017), the construction industry is the most likely to be one of the hardest hit by automation across all countries in APAC.

Agriculture
India, the Philippines and Indonesia have a higher likelihood of automation for the sector, even as Pakistan’s agri-sector was at the highest risk of impact from automation. Increased demand for food and sustainable farming methods is expected to lead to higher adoption of automation and digital solutions. Technologies such as AI can also help reduce spoilage, increase productivity, and add US $9 billion to farmer incomes.

Mining
India’s mining sector has the second-highest risk of impact from automation after Bangladesh. The sector's vulnerability to automation stems from its relatively low skill requirements, its high degree of routine and manual tasks, and use of direct physical activity to operate machinery. Mining comprises less than 1% of the workforce in 10 out of 12 countries analysed, suggesting that automation in mining is well-underway.

"The pandemic has accelerated demand for automation across sectors, which will greatly transform how companies in India do business. Autodesk’s view has long been that automation creates opportunity, but only if we are deliberate about giving workers the skills they need to thrive in a new era of automation. That means new credentialing and certification programs to give them the skills they need to succeed, partnerships across the public and private sector to make workforce development a priority, and much more,” Mittal added.

Getting proactive to address the risks of automation
As well as identifying the challenges facing regions and industries in APAC, the report also highlights a series of proactive steps that should be taken to harness the benefits and address the risks, including:

1. Increasing awareness of the need to adapt, changing the narrative in these regions to focus on the opportunities created in terms of higher, value-add activities rather than the risk of job losses created by automation

2. Fund industry-specific programmes for digital transformation helping small businesses to access new, digital technologies to help accelerate automation usage and adoption

3. Invest in learning programmes to help disadvantaged workers and build resilience, promoting the uptake of reskilling or upskilling courses to help workers continually reinvent themselves in an ever evolving environment of disruption

Implementing these initiatives can smooth the transition to a more adaptable and resilient workforce to thrive in the future of work. APAC is a diverse region and the challenges facing individual countries when it comes to automation are vastly different. However, the report points to one common conclusion, regardless of geography—that automation will create opportunity if the right support mechanisms are put in place and the focus is put squarely on helping workers to succeed.

Click here to see the complete report.

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