In Forrester’s recently published Future Of Jobs Forecast, 2020 To 2040 (India, China, South Korea, Australia, And Japan), we predict that 20% of jobs are at risk from automation and that 5% of jobs will be lost to automation by 2040.

Over the next 20 years, the five largest Asia Pacific economies — India, China, South Korea, Australia, and Japan — will see large changes to their workforces.

  • Working populations: Worker demographics and overseas migration drive changes to worker populations. India’s workforce is young, with an average age of 38, and its working population will grow by 160 million over the next 20 years. In addition, India’s labor force participation rate, which measures the share of the working-age population currently working, has dropped to just 41%. Overseas migration will help Australia increase its working population by 23%, but in South Korea, China, and Japan, aging workforces will force double-digit declines to working populations.
  • Automation: Workforce declines in China, Japan, and South Korea, as well as high employee costs in Australia, will force firms to invest more in automation. By 2040, 63 million jobs in these five largest APAC economies will be lost to automation, and 247 million will be at risk from automation. When newly created jobs are excluded, Australia and South Korea will see the largest share of loss, with more than 11% of jobs lost to automation by 2040.
  • Information workers: ICT (information and communications technology) professional worker job growth will help offset automation job losses, with 7.9 million additional new jobs created by 2040. China, the world’s second largest AI market behind the US, will capture almost half of ICT professional worker job growth in the region. In Australia, database and systems administrators, information and communications technology security specialists, and software and applications programmers will see some of the fastest job growth. In India, the pandemic has more than doubled the growth rate of IT service companies, with 6% to 7% growth pre-pandemic to 15% to 20% growth post-pandemic.

To prepare future skills, a radical rethink of the workforce is necessary. Countries in APAC will increase female labor force participation rates to offset working population declines. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; technology workforce training; technology platform worker growth; and jobs in the green economy will become more important, as will the protection of informal worker rights. Automation will become integral to how APAC countries manage high employee costs and declines in the workforce; India, in particular, will focus on job creation as its workforce grows.