PETALING JAYA: A recruitment agency has downplayed the impact artificial intelligence (AI) will have on job loss, saying the technology’s growth will in fact create new employment opportunities.
“If (by adopting AI) we are killing 50,000 jobs, it is producing another 150,000 jobs,” said Randstad Malaysia country director Fahad Naeem.
In its Future of Jobs Report 2020, the World Economic Forum estimated that technology will displace 85 million jobs. However, it will also create 97 million new jobs in AI-enabled sectors across 26 countries by 2025.
“But if companies are not investing into upgrading themselves, if individuals are not learning to use those technologies, then there’s a problem,” Naeem told FMT.
He was commenting on the latest report by Randstad Employer Brand Research which found that Malaysian workers were becoming increasingly fearful of being made redundant by the adoption of AI.
The report, which surveyed over 160,000 employees globally, found that 37% of Malaysian respondents feared losing their jobs, up from 13% in 2017.
Naeem said automation was not a new phenomenon, although these days it is not limited to the manufacturing sector or the factory floor, with many offices turning to AI tools like ChatGPT.
“What we need is an upskilling of our skilled workforce to learn to adopt these (new) technologies, how can we learn and make our lives much better and easier.”
AI can help fill gaps
In some industries, AI is not being used to replace workers but to support them.
When Covid-19 hit and many foreign workers went back to their home countries, Indian-Muslim restaurant chain QBistro turned to robot servers.
“In terms of durability, it can work 12 hours a day without a break. In terms of cost we can save roughly about 20% to 30%,” QBistro franchise operations manager Ubaidah Abdul Karim told FMT.
Ubaidah said although the cost of purchasing a single robot server was high, a return on the investment is possible within three years.
But that does not mean he intends to do away with his employees altogether.
“In the future, we are not going to depend 100% on humans (but), we need both,” he said.