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The rise of automation: good or bad news for Thai job seekers?
According to some estimates, 56% of current jobs in the Thai market will be lost to automation by 2040. This is a somewhat gloomy statistic about automation, but it doesn’t account for the new opportunities that will be created as well. Still, it’s good to be realistic, and with that comes the increasing acknowledgement of which industries, roles and types of jobs will actually be replaced with automation, and which of those are simply going to need a bit of upskilling to keep up with the changes. Here are some insights into what I think the impact of automation will be on the Thai job market by 2040.
The impact of automation on jobs in Thailand
Thailand is one of the most famous countries to set up manufacturing facilities for various industries, as we offer a well-established infrastructure, low labor costs, and tax benefits to foreign investors. This means we have a tremendous number of operators and blue-collar workers who are performing repeated jobs in manufacturing processes on a day to day basis.
With the implementation of automation, manufacturing processes require significantly less manpower to complete the same job, and will be more efficient, with the effects of human error greatly reduced. As a result, automation will make a large impact on those jobs in Thailand that revolve around repetition and routine.
The effect of automation on Thai professionals
At this early stage of automation, Thai professionals should be more aware of the opportunities behind automation rather than concerned about being replaced. Automation technology itself needs more time to develop, and professionals should be aware that some functions of jobs may be replaced by it in the future, but also that not all jobs will be affected.
However, professionals are likely to be at risk of losing their jobs in the future if they are doing repeated jobs which rely on physical energy rather than soft skills and creativity. Soft skills and creativity are unlikely to be replaced by automation due to their complexity and behaviors related with human emotions, which are quite difficult to create algorithms to replicate.
What professionals can do to make themselves more valuable
In these days, you will always hear news of companies laying off their employees from time to time because of economic downturns, moving the plant to other country or reducing manpower due to automation or AI implementation. As a Recruitment Consultant, I have observed quite a number of companies replacing functions or jobs with Automation and AI.
However, there is still very high demand in recruitment of mid to management level roles, especially because of the large skills gap between demand for high quality candidates and quality candidates on the market.
As these types of roles rely on expertise and specific knowledge in those particular functions, especially soft skills to lead or manage subordinates, I do not think AI could offer all of this at the moment or in the near future. As mentioned above, it is possible for candidates to prevent replacing functions or jobs with AI by continuing to develop their soft skills and core competencies to become an expert in their field.
Ways for professionals to upskill
We all know that nowadays the world is getting smaller and smaller with the advancement of technology. This makes it easier for professionals to learn – whether it’s about something new or gaining more knowledge about an already familiar topic. There are a million ways to improve your knowledge if you are willing to do so.
So, while it is possible that candidates’ current positions are becoming obsolete due to these new technologies, but that doesn’t mean that the candidate should stop learning. Rather than running from new technology, the key is to integrate it and learn how it can enhance performance, rather than replace it. Another way to apply the idea of learning is to extend training and learning opportunities to other similar products or services where core knowledge and existing expertise can be applied, just in a different context.
Keeping up in this way helps professionals at all levels stay relevant, interested and important, even as the needs of the economy shift and change overall skills requirements.
The human side: why good candidates will always have work
I meet a lot of professionals in my day-to-day work: up to 30 people per week. With that high volume of candidate interviews, I have learned to efficiently evaluate potential performance and capabilities by looking at aspects such as technical knowledge, core competencies and soft skills, and identify those which will make the candidate most attractive to prospective employers.
Even though candidates have different backgrounds and work, one attribute stands out as a common factor between successful candidates: those who have a good attitude will always stand out from the rest.
These professionals with a good attitude are all challenge-driven, open-minded and confident. They are not definitely changing the job just to earn more money but to explore new challenges in their careers. With a good attitude, those candidates will always seek out areas in which they can keep developing.
And what I have observed is those quality candidates will not be available in the market for a long time. They will always get more than one offer at the same time because companies are keen to have those candidates in the organisation. Sometimes they even open new positions especially for those candidates to join the organisation if there was no vacancy at that time.
Personally, I believe that if you have good attitude and keep developing yourself to stand out from the rest, it is very hard for Automation and AI to replace you.