Adaption Of Disruptive Technologies Can Result To Unemployment

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Thailand boasts of its strong manufacturing and textile industries which are considered as the prime targets for robotics and automation. In the embroidery industry, technology takes the form of embroidery software to digitize embroidery designs; however, they still use the same embroidery supplier in Thailand as the manual embroiderers do.

Thailand 4.0 was launched two years ago with the objective of transforming Thailand into a high income nation. In order to achieve the goals of the new economic policy, Thailand has identified several areas where robotics and digital technologies can be applied. However, Thailand Development Research Institute is concerned that benefits will be limited even if Thailand 4.0 becomes successful.

Disruptive technologies that include robotics and automation are the areas that would most likely generate a disruption in employment. The manufacturing and textile industries of Thailand are the prime targets for robotics and automation to ensure greater production efficiencies at a lower cost. Right now, more and more firms are integrating these technologies into their production lines because they understand that automation is unavoidable.

According to Thai Automation and Robotics Association (TARA), in the next 2 or 3 years, at least one half of Thai industries will be ready to adapt automation. Large companies are already prepared for technology but small businesses will most probably need another 5 years.

However, when automation is adapted by companies, there will be casualties. The first jobs that will be automated are those of unskilled workers. At least 45% or 16.9 million of the total workforce of Thailand is unskilled. For the best interests of the Thais, the government must initiate retraining and re-skilling programs for workers.

If a worker is retrenched due to automation, they can easily find an alternative employment in industries that rely on human assets. There are still industries that do not worry about disruptive technologies because of their human capital.

For example in the embroidery sector, even with the presence of automated embroidery machines, there are specific orders for clothing that require the traditional handmade embroidery using threads from embroidery supplier in Thailand that is known for its quality. Elaborately embroidered clothing like wedding dresses cannot be embroidered through a machine using software.

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