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Unions urged to train for digital manufacturing age

Update: May, 13/2017 - 06:00
An international conference on “Việt Nam in the World of Digital Manufacturing” on Thursday debated the future of work and how to prepare for the replacement of human jobs by robots and artificial intelligence. VNS Photo Gia Lộc
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY -  Trade unions in Việt Nam have been urged to carry out programmes that would raise awareness about the importance of workers learning new skills for the digital manufacturing age.

Mai Đức Chính, deputy chairman of Việt Nam General Confederation of Labour, said that workers had been ignoring this urgent need.

Chính spoke at an international conference on “Việt Nam in the World of Digital Manufacturing” in HCM City held on Thursday.

He noted that low-skilled workers could be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence used in manufacturing.

At least 86 per cent of all wage workers in textile, clothing, and footwear manufacturing in Việt Nam could face a high risk of automation due to advances in technological engineering, according to the International Labour Organisation.

Overall, up to 70 per cent of all wage workers are at risk of losing their job due to automation.

The trade union is encouraging workers to spend time to attend training courses to improve their skills, and adapt to the fourth industrial revolution, Chính told Việt Nam News.

Dr Trương Văn Cẩm, vice president and general secretary of Việt Nam Textile and Apparel Association, said the fourth industrial revolution’s impact has already been felt in the country.

In the textile and apparel field, for example, it has helped raise productivity of enterprises.

Cẩm said the companies should use automatic processes in many phases of the production line.

“During chemical fibre production and dyeing, which causes harmful effects on workers, robots could be used to replace workers in the next decade,” he said.

Workers with “repetitive and boring” tasks could also be replaced, he added.

“At the time, workers will receive training to improve their skills so they can adapt,” Cẩm said.

Trade unions play an important role in raising awareness about the impact caused by automation, he said.

Dr Lê Đăng Doanh, senior economist and member of the UN’s Committee for Development Policy, said the replacement of many workers by advanced machines and robots was inevitable.

However, the Government and trade unions need to provide assistance to workers when they are replaced, he added.

Dr Vũ Thành Tự Anh, director of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Programme in HCM City, said they should begin preparations now.

The country’s policymakers need to seek solutions to “escape from the trap of cheaply priced labour” as an asset to attract investment to the country, he said.

The conference was held by the Centre for International Studies at the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities in co-operation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung of Germany.   – VNS

 

 

 

 

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