by Roy Stephen C. Canivel, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jul 25, 2019
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is already preparing for the impact of automation on the Philippine labor force, anticipating a massive loss of jobs and finding ways to keep Filipinos employed amid fierce competition from robots.
A ranking department official, however, said there’s no need to fear these robots, like those killer machines in movies called “terminators.”
A report prepared in 2017 yet by consulting firm Mckinsey & Company estimated that 48 percent of work in the Philippines, equivalent to 18.2 million jobs, would be automated, eliminating the need for human workers.
Trade and Industry Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba had cited this report at a press briefing in Malacanang earlier this month as she discussed steps being taken by the government to prepare job automation and counter its impact on the Philippine labor force.
Aldaba, however, sought to ease fears about job automation, saying it could actually bring benefits like create new jobs.
“Recall when ATM machines were first introduced and automation alarmists thought that this would lead to massive unemployment for bank tellers,” she said in a Viber message.
“But this did not happen, new activities were actually created for service maintenance and cash reloading. With ATM machines, cost of operations dropped which enabled banks to build more branches requiring more tellers,” she added.
She said the Department of Trade and Industry is working with the academe, the private sector and other government agencies, like the Commission on Higher Education, Department of Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, to prepare for the era of robots in the work force.
One way Philippine workers could prepare for the onslaught of automation was to upgrade skills, retrain and for training schools to revise curricula to include subjects on digital and other skills that job automation would require.
The Philippines, she said, should not fear the advent of new technology because it would allow the country to improve its competitiveness, develop new industries and even create new jobs.
“Robots would need operators, service maintenance, and manufacturers. AI activities would require not only data scientists but also relatively low skilled workers to do data cleaning and data annotation,” she said, using the acronym for Artificial Intelligence./TSB