The panel discussion kicked off with a brief presentation on the key findings of the ADB publication, Asian Development Outlook 2018: How Technology Affects Jobs. The lead author noted that automation is affecting low-end manual skills but its impact is slower at the middle and particularly higher skills that involve non-routine tasks. Even where automation is happening, this leads to higher demand of products due to cost reduction and improved quality of products, which in turn generate more jobs (e.g. ATMs). In some cases, automation leads to creation of new occupations (e.g. cybersecurity) and more jobs.
In light of the rapid changes in technologies and disruptions that such technologies are causing in almost all sectors, the panelists explored how education and training systems need to respond to such changes. There was consensus that automation is impacting skills and jobs but perhaps at a slower pace. There are also spinoffs from technologies that create new opportunities. An important strategy for Asia and the Pacific is to support foundational skills including digital and socio-emotional skills at the school level and build high-level skills (polytechnics and higher education) in high growth high-tech industries.
The seminar explored possible implications on how ADB can support its developing member countries. First, the labor market diagnostics need to improve by using big data analytics to mine data from professional job portals, company databases, and government databases to identify trends in skills and changing occupations. Such diagnostics need to be matched with supply side interventions which need to look at foundational skills (in addition to 3Rs covering reading, writing and arithmetic), project-based and work-based learning, career guidance and more effective delivery mechanisms (e.g. e-learning). There was an emphasis on blending different policies (education, industrial, economic, and investments) and developing partnerships with governments, private sector, and training providers to work together towards a more holistic approach. There were also suggestions to consider continuous learning, adaptive learning, and closer partnerships between education and employers to promote job ready skills.
Mr. Rana Hasan is the director of the Development Economics and Indicators Division at the Asian Development Bank’s Economic Research and Regional Coordination Department. His research has focused on understanding how market-oriented economic reforms affect labor market outcomes and industrial performance, and analyses of poverty and inequality in the Asia and Pacific region. He worked previously as principal economist in the India Resident Mission of ADB, and as a fellow at the East-West Center in the USA. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Maryland.
Ayako Inagaki is the director of the South East Asia Department's Human and Social Development Division in ADB. She leads the planning, implementation, and supervision of ADB's lending and non-lending operations in the social sectors, which includes education and skills development, health, and social protection. Ms. Inagaki is also the Chair of ADB's Health Sector Group, where she guides the preparation and implementation of the health sector group work plan, which sets out priorities and targets based on ADB's Operational Plan for Health 2015-2020.
Mr. Sungsup Ra is currently director of the Human and Social Development Division, South Asia Department, ADB. He is also chair of the Education Sector Group in ADB. Since joining ADB in 2001, he has worked as director of Pacific strategy and special operations in the Pacific Department, as senior advisor to the managing director general, and as deputy country director of Bangladesh and and of Nepal. He has taught at leading universities in Japan, Korea, and the US, and authored over 50 publications. He holds a doctorate degree in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US.
Mr. Brajesh Panth is the chief of the Education Sector Group at ADB's Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department. He provides technical leadership to the education sector group (ESG) in ADB, leads the preparation of the ESG work plan, and facilitates collaboration across sector and thematic groups in ADB and with external partners. He has over 25 years of experience in all levels of education including sector assessment, project processing, implementation, evaluation, and policy dialogue. He holds a doctorate in education from Harvard University.
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