Regional News

IDB: Latin America braces for labor automation

By Silvia Castro Betancourt 0 Comments NEWS, Regional News

This article was written and published in Spanish and has been translated into English. Click here to read the original article.

The governments of Latin America and the Caribbean must develop strategies with the private sector to take full advantage of technology in the workplace and at the same time mitigate the risks of its expansion, four regional development organizations warned on Thursday, April 19th, 2018.

The Inter-American Development Bank indicated that the number of robots per 100 industrial workers in Latin America is lower than in other regions, but noted that Latin American workers spend half their time on tasks that can be automated. At the same time he warned that two thirds of the current occupations in Argentina and Uruguay run the risk of being replaced by technologies that already exist.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution - a name commonly used to refer to the recent irruption of artificial intelligence and robots in productive activity - could increase inequality and informal activity and cause the disappearance of jobs. But it could also generate economic growth if it achieves greater productivity, efficiency and a reduction in operating costs.

The IDB said in a report that although the arrival of new technologies in Latin America has been slow and irregular, it has also allowed greater flexibility and mobility for many workers who need to acquire a new type of skills.

The head of the IDB labor market division, Carmen Pagés, said that the countries of the region need to provide training in digital and cognitive skills "so that their workers can satisfactorily face the challenges presented by new technologies.”

The document suggested that employees will need to learn more quickly as more jobs are automated, so the traditional model of studying full time and then working until retirement has become obsolete. "The division between learning and receiving income is already blurred and seems to be leading to a learning model for the entire life," the report explained. For this, educational systems will need to offer short courses with an emphasis on practical activities so that adults can continue to learn continuously.

In this environment, companies will stop looking for people with titles and will hire employees with skills that should be identified as strategic during the design of public-private policies. In turn, the disintegration of the traditional wage-earning model will present a major challenge to the financing of pension systems in a region where one in five people will be over 65 years of age by 2050, the document added.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Thursday that the IMF is analyzing in detail how new technologies affect financial and labor stability and whether they promote prosperity. "We try to renew our thinking on these issues, open ourselves to new paradigms," Lagarde said during a press conference held during the spring meeting held by the IMF and the World Bank this week in the US capital. The report was prepared jointly by the IDB, and the development banks of Asia (ADB), Africa (AFDB) and Europe (EBRD).

This article was written and published in Spanish and has been translated into English. Click here to read the original article.

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