MANILA - The Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia should retool their workforce to adapt to the approaching automation wave, the International Labor Organization said.
A survey by the ILO last year showed that 49 percent of workers in the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia are at risk from automation.
Those doing routine tasks such as hotel receptionists and call center agents could be affected, while retail associates are at risk due to e-commerce, the study said.
"If you don't do anything and you don't implement policies and programs to ensure that there's proper transition, then definitely that will happen in the next 10 or 20 years," ILO program officer Lourdes Macapanpan told ANC's On the Money.
Based on the study, 89 percent of BPO or call center agents in the country are at risk from automation. But most enterprises disagree, Macapanpan said.
The BPO sector is retraining its workforce to do high-skilled jobs while the hotel sector believes that "human touch and human interaction" makes the them more competitive, she said.
To prevent job loss due to automation, she said workers should master technical knowledge and strategic thinking because these skills would be in demand in the future.
"It's basically keeping a mindset of embracing change and promoting a life-long learning. Acquire new knowledge, acquire new skills and be open to change," Macapanpan said.