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Naive to believe there will be no job loss as a result of new technology: Meity secretary

Traditional jobs in the BPO sector are drying up and it will be naive to be under the impression that there will be no job loss due to the advancement of technology, a senior government official said on Thursday.

While speaking at CII’s Global Economic Policy forum, Ministry of Electronics and IT, Secretary S Krishnan, in response to a question on the impact of artificial intelligence on jobs said that there will be fear among people but equally skilling will become an important task to help people move up in the value chain.

“We will be naive if we believe that there will be no job losses as a result of new technology. The comparison to the Industrial Revolution is also very apt in that regard. When you had greater mechanisation than naturally, jobs were lost and there were many people who were extremely fearful of job losses,” he said.

Krishnan said there will be substantial productivity enhancement in certain sectors which will then free up a lot of people.

“I think, then what happens is, what is incumbent on the government and the industry to do is to really upskill a lot of these people so that they can occupy higher level jobs which will also be possibly an outcome of rising incomes and rising aspirations,” Krishnan said.

He said that there are many repetitive tasks and many other traditional jobs that can possibly be done significantly faster and effectively by artificial intelligence tools.

“Which means we have to then look for where meaningful jobs will arise, where more personalized services are required. Those are the kinds of jobs where human intervention becomes much more important,” Krishnan said.

Artificial Intelligence

The Indian job market is estimated to witness 22% churn over the next five years, with top emerging roles coming from AI, machine learning and data segments, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report that was released in May.

Globally, the job market churn is estimated at 23%, with 69 million new jobs expected to be created and 83 million eliminated by 2027.

Krishnan said that there will probably be jobs in the entertainment sector, significant jobs in personal care and a variety of other areas where personal training etc are required, those kinds of occupations which are formerly not so much in the limelight at present.

“We will have to do a detailed study. We will have to see ways in which the higher level jobs really get created. We see it today actually even in the software sector. We see that today as all the many of the traditional BPO jobs are drying up. People are going up the value chain in terms of engineering design, research, jobs of that nature, which pay better, but then you need better skills,” Krishnan said.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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