Future of Work in Asia and the Pacific | Asian Development Bank

Future of Work in Asia and the Pacific

Video | 3 May 2018

Is your job at risk of being taken over by robots? As technology transforms Asia and the Pacific, what will the future of work be? In the Asian Development Outlook 2018, we explore what can be done to adapt to the fourth industrial revolution to ensure that jobs will not be displaced in a rapidly evolving work environment.

New technologies drive higher productivity, the foundation for better-paid jobs and economic growth. While new technologies displace jobs, they also unleash countervailing forces that generate more jobs. As some workers may be left behind, governments in developing Asia should respond to this challenge by ensuring that workers are protected from the downside of new technologies and prepared to harness the new opportunities they provide. This will require coordinated action on skills development, labor regulation, social protection, and income redistribution.


Technology has transformed Asia.

These advances have propelled growth and led to dramatic reductions in poverty and improvements in our living standards.

Our region has been a leader in adapting to a more globalized world.

In 1980 it would have been unimaginable to say that by 2018 the People’s Republic of China would be the world’s number one exporter, India would lead the world in IT services, the Philippines would be the global center of business process outsourcing, and Bangladesh would produce more garments for export than any other country on earth.  

But the landscape is shifting. Technological advances are accelerating.

Jobs once thought to be safe, are now in the crosshairs of what many are calling the 4th industrial revolution.

Doomsayers say millions of jobs will become obsolete in Asia.

But there is reason to be optimistic.

Asia’s growth has led to a booming consumer class.

Across the region workers have more disposable income to buy electronics, clothes, and services.

While the production of things like garments, and especially electronics, have become more and more automated – these industries continue to add jobs.

And as economies become more advanced, there is more demand for workers requiring high levels of cognitive and social skills, like managers and nurses.

We don’t exactly know what the future of jobs will be. But we do know this.

Hundreds of millions of workers in Asia will face incredible transitions over the course of their careers.

We need to learn new skills –we need to learn how to learn - throughout our lives.

And we also need stronger support for workers in industries that become obsolete.

The rise of the machines is already happening. Asia’s example can lead the way in preparing for a future with quality jobs and inclusive growth.

We must act now to prepare for this change.