An illustration depicting job automation. (HO-APEC Secretariat)

JAKARTA – The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic will accelerate the adoption of automation by firms and organizations across the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region, according to the findings of a new report.

The report titled “Covid-19, 4IR and the Future of Work” has been issued in the form of a policy brief by the APEC Policy Support Unit and The Asia Foundation, according to a written statement received by Antara here on Friday.

The report states that constraints to labor supply caused by movement restrictions, domestic and global, as well as the withdrawal of workers who are elderly or have pre-existing conditions are some of the push factors for firms to explore, or even deploy, automation in their operations.

A variety of stimulus and relief measures offered by governments to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as lower interest rates and subsidies to encourage digitalization, may also serve as incentives for more firms to automate business processes.

The unintended impact of such a scenario would be the risk of certain jobs being eliminated, which would contribute to creating further spikes in unemployment rates around the region, the report states.

The report has called on APEC policymakers to conduct a thorough risk assessment of jobs that may be impacted or eliminated by automation to understand the challenges workers would face and the unforeseen impact of crisis-response policies.

“It is impossible for us to talk about growth when people are struggling to secure their livelihoods,” executive director of the APEC Secretariat, Rebecca Fatima Sta. Maria said.

“We have been mandated by ministers to prioritize the return of workers to employment. Our responsibility is to ensure that we support people at risk with greater inclusive policy instruments,” she said.

The report has also advised policymakers to strengthen and expand social protection policies to protect workers and provide income security.

The APEC will need to work closely with the private sector to monitor automation trends and support the need for workforce up-skilling and re-training, the report states. (Antara)