As more and more tasks are getting done with automation, the talents of tomorrow need to adapt and equip themselves with the sought-after skills of the future.
According to recent Khazanah Research Institute study, sales and services were among the roles that were the most vulnerable to being replaced with automation. In Malaysian labour pool, the “Work in an Evolving Malaysia: The State of Households 2020 Part II” report said, workers in these categories represented the largest group at 22.6 percent of total employment in 2019).
On the contrary, the survey noted that jobs such as health and teaching professionals are less likely to be replaced by technology. While skilled occupations still face risk of automation, semi-skilled occupations are more liable of being automated, Malay Mail reports.
In the current Covid-19 climate, KRI found that the pandemic could also increase the risk of automation as firms try to cut costs and manage supply chain disruptions, as well as respond to potentially changing consumer preferences for automated services as physical distancing precautions continue.
“Even prior to Covid-19, jobs that can be automated tend to be semi-skilled and low skilled. These jobs also tend to have lower teleworking capabilities, i.e. workers cannot simply work from home when physical distancing requirements are enforced. If the movement restrictions have to be extended for a long period, we may risk the permanent loss of non-teleworking semi-skilled jobs,” said KRI.
However, while Covid-19 may accelerate some digitisation and automation, KRI found that it did not mean jobs will be immediately automated as businesses’ preparedness for automation was patchy. “Industrial robots are still more concentrated in high-technology manufacturing activities, and even among firms in the sector, investments in machineries are still limited,” it said.
The research institute said the pandemic could provide a window of opportunity for policymakers to strategically manage the transition towards automation.
“On the firms’ side, this crisis is a clear evidence on why digitalisation and automation matters, further supported by various government incentives provided for firms to digitalise and automate.
“However, the transition process for these firms should also be supported by investments to improve workers’ skills so that they can operate the new technologies installed to improve productivity and business resilience,” said KRI.