Home / Industry / Human Resource /  How automation will affect the job market in India

Automation has been a major worry when it comes to work and jobs. A recently released report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) dwells on automation and employability. Mint looks into what the report has to say about India.

What is the main point of the report?

The report titled “Changing Business and Opportunities for Employer and Business Organizations" lists the percentage of work activities that can be automated using current technology. In the case of India, 51.8% of activities can be automated. As the report points out: “Robotic automation is having the greatest impact, replacing low-skilled jobs and simple assembly tasks." Japan and Thailand run the risk of 55.7% and 54.8%, respectively, of their activities being automated. Over 40% of activities can be automated across the world. This is clearly not good news for the employed.

Who will be hurt by this automation?

The report says automation will likely impact “most jobs involving highly structured physical activity in predictable environments, such as manufacturing and retail, alongside data collection and processing". Jobs that have some semblance of a routine are more at threat than others. Also, automation threatens to impact women more than men, suggests the report. It points out that women “are a large component of the workforce in retail, business processing outsourcing and textiles/clothing/footwear". This is primarily because automation threatens sectors where women form a major part of the workforce.

What does the report say in the Indian context?

A significant point made by the ILO report is that 66% of Indian businesses are looking for quite a different set of skills among new recruits than they did three years ago.

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What has been the impact of this around the world?

What is true about India is also true about other parts of the world. As the ILO report points out, “a large proportion of businesses in the United States of America (61%), Brazil (70%)… and Germany (65%) agreed that businesses are looking for quite different skills in new recruits". These businesses are not always able to find candidates with the new skills. For 53% of Indian businesses it has become harder to recruit people with the skills needed.

What does this mean for India?

India has an unemployment crisis. Over and above that, what this report suggests is that India also has an employability crisis. Even when firms have jobs on offer, they are unable to find candidates with the right skills who can take on these jobs. A major reason for this lies in the fact that education systems are not well equipped to adapt to changes at the workplace. This has created another problem over and above unemployment.

Vivek Kaul is an economist and the author of the Easy Money trilogy.

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