DTI chief says retraining could offset job losses due to automation

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 22) — Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez on Monday allayed fears that millions of Filipino workers may lose job in the next few years due to automation.

Lopez said the use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, among others, will not “kill” jobs but will pave the way for new employment opportunities.

“Yes, we will lose jobs but it’s also a replacement.. in other words renaming of functions, there’ll be new functions, there’ll be affected.. those repetitive, low-skill types of of jobs that esentially they just have to be retrained para there will be new forms of jobs,” the secretary told CNN Philippines on the sidelines of President Rodrigo Duterte’s 4th State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

After all, the use of any technology still requires human labor, he said.

“With the AI for example, robotics, kailangan may magma-manage pa rin ng robots, magpapaandar din nyan and of course maintenance,” Lopez explained.

The secretary’s statement comes after DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba last week said over 18 million Filipino workers may lose their jobs to automation in the next five to six years.

Aldaba, according to reports, cited a recent study by McKinsey Global Institute that says more than 18 million jobs could be automated in the next few years.

Lopez said these technologies will “aid” local industries by making them more “productive and competitive.”

“All industries will be affected positively beacuse they should make use of technoloy, that’s the point,” he said.

“There’s a reason to be concerned, not afraid. Sabi ko nga, don’t fear nor despair. Just prepare,” he said.

To help the future workforce adjust to these changes, Lopez said, the government will push for programs that will train students on how to use emerging technologies.

Ang importante dun there will be new types of jobs that will be required, and therefore reskilling, restraining right from grade school, high school and in college [will be needed],” he said.

“Government is the catalyst, we have to start the move. But obviously the private sector is into it also,” he added.