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Automation to take over 63 million jobs in APAC by 2040 - report

Research and advisory firm Forrester's new report forecasts that working populations in the five largest economies in the Asia Pacific - India, China, South Korea, Australia and Japan are more at risk of physical robot automation than in Europe and North America.

Its Future of Jobs Forecast has found that by 2040, 63 million jobs in APAC will 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.

The report says in the coming years, the green economy will help offset some job losses as more countries commit to carbon neutrality. Forrester says 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 information and communications technology (ICT) industries, the report predicts that 13.7 million jobs in the region will be lost to automation across wholesale, retail, transport, accommodation, and leisure sectors.

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

Australia

Similar to the US, Forrester says Australia's high GDP per worker incentivises firms to automate jobs to improve productivity and reduce labour costs. It predicts Australia will see 11% 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, Forrester says China will see its working population decline by 11%, and 7% of jobs will be lost to automation. However, job growth in the ICT industry will help offset automation job losses, with 3.8 million additional new jobs created by 2040.

India

Forrester says 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% of India's jobs are threatened by automation, the research firm says the country's main priority will be job creation to accommodate new workers entering the workforce.

Japan

Forrester says due to an ageing workforce, and the country's low birth rate, between 2020 and 2040, Japan's working population will decrease by 19%. By 2050, it is forecasted to decline by almost one-third.

South Korea

Driven by its aging working population and its dependency on the construction and agriculture industries, which are more susceptible to automation, Forrester says South Korea's workforce will decline by 23% over the next 20 years.

Forrester principal forecast analyst Michael O'Grady says 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," he says.

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