The Ageing Effect Ep. 2: 'Jobs are not necessarily lost but displaced'
Reskilling and upskilling with Naveen Menon, head of Cisco for ASEAN, and Thomas Birwe, head of HR Switzerland at Swiss Re
Technology changes and advances at an ever increasing pace. Workers of all ages increasingly have to adapt to this reality by updating their skills throughout their working life. Seeing as that the up and coming Southeast Asian economies will have to keep up with these developments, are governments and companies in the region aware of the problem? And how do they compare to European efforts in lifelong learning? Head of Cisco for ASEAN, Naveen Menon, and Thomas Birwe, head of HR Switzerland at Swiss Re, present their perspectives on reskilling.
Our key takeaways
The key finding of the study conducted by Oxford Economics and Cisco is that in ASEAN, 28 million fewer workers (out of a total of 275 million workers) will be needed for the same economic activity as today. However, jobs will not be lost but displaced. Productivity gains are expected to be reinvested into new services.
Affected the most by job displacement in absolute terms are Indonesia and Vietnam, followed by Thailand and the Philippines. There will be a large net loss in agriculture due mechanization, while the demand for more skilled workers in manufacturing, construction, wholesale and other service industries will increase. At the occupational level, elementary workers will experience the most displacement.
The study identified several areas where skills are lacking. The largest skill gaps are to be found in IT, followed by operations (i.e. usage of equipment and machinery), management and general science and mathematics. Summarizing, “an overwhelmingly large number of ASEAN workers will require reskilling”, to quote Naveen Menon in the video.
On the other end of the developmental curve, European companies like Swiss Re are already responding to demographic trends. An expected outflow of roughly a third of the workforce due to retirement during the next ten years means a potential loss of knowledge.
In order to alleviate the effects of this outflow, digital learnings platforms are set up and their use encouraged among the employees. On Swiss Re's learning platform, employees may refresh or deepen their knowledge in work-related skills or acquire new ones altogether. Currently, the most sought after skills are leadership, work-related fundamentals and IT skills such as data science and programming. This is one crucial element of Swiss Re's policy of letting "employees own their career". This, in tandem with more flexible working arrangements, is supposed to promote a longer working life at the firm in the long term, in order to decrease the devastating outflow of knowledge.
Naveen Menon is the President for Cisco Systems in Southeast Asia and is responsible for driving profitable growth across 10 countries in the region. Prior to joining Cisco, Naveen led the Communications, Media and Technology practice for the strategy consulting firm Kearney in Asia Pacific. Naveen is a knowledge adviser to the World Economic Forum and his work in the area of personal data has been featured at several public and private sessions at the Annual Meeting in Davos. He is currently a board member of Digital ASEAN and the Regional Action Group, World Economic Forum initiatives that aim to develop a single digital market, an enabling ecosystem, and an inclusive and upgraded system of digital infrastructure in Southeast Asia.
Thomas Birwe heads HR Switzerland for Swiss Re since July 2018. He has many years of HR experience; a track record in HR business partnering; and leading organizational and cultural change. Prior to joining Swiss Re he worked for Zurich Insurance from 2010 until 2018. He led the Global Corporate / Commercial Insurance HR team and was a member of the Group HR Executive Team. Previous roles at Zurich include Global HR Partner for Corporate Life & Pensions and for the banking segment. Before working for Zurich, Thomas was Project Lead Global Performance Management & Compensation at Kuehne & Nagel; Senior Consultant at PwC; and started his career at Campina.