New Delhi, Apr 11 (PTI) As newer technologies like robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) take over, workers need to upskill or face the risk of lower wages and unemployment, ADB warned today.

ADB’s ‘Asian Development Outlook, 2018’ has called for government action on skill development coupled with steps in labour regulation, social protection and income redistribution.

It said jobs which require repetitive, routine tasks and workers who do not have the education or training to move easily to other occupation, may face slow growth in wages.

“New technologies alter the skills required of the workforce and may cause unemployment as some firms downsize or close. They make the less-skilled more likely to experience lower wage growth, exacerbating income inequality,” it said.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao said the application of new technologies will boost productivity but displace certain jobs.

He added however that rising demand and higher output will create jobs, thereby outweighing job displacement, as new occupations and industries would be added due to use of technology.

“This transition will require a skilled workforce and could put the less-skilled at a disadvantage. The challenge for governments is to ensure that workers are equipped with foundational skills to enable lifelong learning and have the specialised skills required for working with new technologies…

“They must ensure that new technologies develop in ways that benefit people and protect their rights,” Nakao said.

The report further said that governments should use new technologies in education and skills development, as well as to deliver such public services as social protection programmes. “Government support for new technologies must benefit people and protect their rights and privacy.” ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada said 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,” he said.

Stating that developing Asia has done remarkably well in creating jobs for its workers, the report said that over the past 25 years, the region has created 30 million jobs annually in industry and services.

Emerging technologies such as robotics, three-dimensional printing, AI, and the Internet of things (IoT) will help drive future prosperity.

Yet they also pose challenges for workers as gradually it is becoming technically feasible to automate more complex service tasks such as customer support.

“These developments have raised concern that automation could cause widespread job loss, slow wage growth, and worsen income inequality in developed and developing economies alike. Some studies indicate that over half of the jobs in some economies in developing Asia are at risk,” the report said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.