The question hanging heavy over many people’s heads as Asean shift towards ‘Industry 4.0’ is whether digitalisation and automation will lead to mass unemployment. At the rate with which technology and robotisation is constantly evolving and replacing roles traditionally performed by human workers, the question is a valid one.
As labour costs continuing to rise industry movers-and-shakers across the region are increasingly turning their attention towards robotisation to lower operating costs, improve consistency and efficiency, and keep shareholders happy – because in the end, capital earned from profit is what makes the world go around, right?
With the perception that robots and Industry 4.0 will eventually take over most of our jobs widespread – one recent poll found that almost one-fifth of Singaporeans are afraid that automation posses a threat to their job security – some governments, such as Thailand, are establishing training centres in a bid to prevent their labour force from becoming obsolete.
This though hasn’t hasn’t convinced Thailand’s Thanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the National Labour Development Advisory Council (NLDAC), that mass unemployment is not on the horizon. According to Mr Sorat, the push to Thailand 4.0 could leave up to 23 million unskilled and semi-skilled Thai workers jobless.
However, Singapore-based Ademco Security Group (ASG) says this isn’t necessarily so and that the shift to Industry 4.0 and smarter, less strenuous work might not be all bad.
In an advertising campaign titled ‘Hello! Uncle Not Machine!’ produced for its Facebook and YouTube channels, the company takes a light-hearted look at how robotisation and Industry 4.0 can deliver benefits to even unskilled and semi-skilled workers, provided that education and training are included in the mix.
The campaign parodies the trials and tribulations of an ageing security guard and his perceptions of what the future holds following receipt of a letter announcing a restructuring.
“Maybe it’s a spelling mistake. Maybe instead of ‘restructure’, they meant ’retrench’, he musses to himself, before concluding that the future doesn’t look very bright.
Not wanting to be total spoilers, we won’t give the punch-line away. But needless to say Industry 4.0 is not necessarily all doom and gloom, through perhaps the bloodcurdling scream causing a tree full of resting birds to take flight is a little dramatic.
In an interview with Campaign, Patrick Lim, director of ASG said, “the purpose of this project was to produce a light-hearted video to create awareness of the out-dated mindset both the public and the security industry have about security guards, which at present mostly involves long hours, mundane, and physically taxing tasks.”
At the same time the campaign aims to show how ASG “can change the concept of security guards in Singapore with the help of technology that is readily available.” In doing so, Mr Lim said, it aims to transition the role of guards from one of investigating security issues, to resolving them.
However, for the future to manifest itself in such an idyllic manner Asean nations need to be able to keep up with their ‘Industry 4.0’ rhetoric. At the same time a commitment to the Latin phrase most often attributed to the elite US Army Rangers who have a similar phrase in their creed, nemo resideo (leave no one behind), would also be a worthy notion.
Feature video Ademco Security Group
- The Four Challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (The Market Mogul)
- Unemployment will Decrease Through Industry 4.0 (Elevator World Turkey)
- Your next lawyer could be a machine – (World Economic Forum)