More Than Half of Jobs in Kazakhstan at High Risk of Automation, Education Remains a Priority

NUR-SULTAN – Nearly 52 percent of all future jobs in Kazakhstan are at high risk of automation. That is one of the conclusions made in the country’s first national report on the labor market prepared by the Center of Labor Resources Development. 

The figure stands at 47 percent in OECD countries. 

As the impact of technologies on the workforce is growing every year, the future of jobs remains uncertain. With the rapid development of AI and machine learning, the risks of automation are significant. 

In the near future, more than 85 million jobs could disappear, while 97 million more could emerge that are more adapted to the division of labor between people, machines, and algorithms.

The recent study of the world’s eight largest economies concluded that by 2030 around 100 million workers, or roughly one in sixteen, will have to change their occupation.

“COVID-19, on the other hand, has given additional impetus and increased the speed of these changes. So, in just a few months, companies around the world have digitized their customer and supply chain processes and internal operations that would have taken three to four years before the pandemic. The coronavirus crisis accelerated the transition to the digital economy, even in sectors where it was not planned anytime soon and to such an extent that schools, hospitals, and many other services now can no longer be imagined in the physical world alone,” said the report. 

Jobs of a “predictable and routine nature” in such sectors as banking, manufacturing, transportation, and storage, are at bigger risk of disappearing. 

“The work of a bank specialist is gradually being replaced by ATMs. We no longer need a teller for the operations that we can either do ourselves over the Internet or we go to the bank and do it through an ATM. But if we go to the bank in bad weather and we have puddles of mud coming off our shoes, then immediately two cleaning persons will come running to clean up the mud. And that labor, which is not routine, and which is very simple, very low-skilled, can hardly be replaced,” said Vladimir Gimpelson, Director of the Center for Labour Market Studies at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

The report, which consists of six chapters, compiles up-to-date information on global trends, current challenges, ongoing changes in the economy and labor market, including those influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, government support for employment, and identifies key factors for future workforce competitiveness.

The experts suggest the priorities of companies are primarily aimed at the development of technologies related to cloud computing, Big Data, e-commerce, and artificial intelligence, which, in turn, fosters an increase in demand both for mid- and high-skill IT specialists and in related fields, such as product development, engineering, marketing.

And while these changes are inevitable, soft skills are becoming of great value for the labor market. 

“Employers are already demanding more sophisticated knowledge and competencies from employees, such as critical thinking and analysis, the ability to solve problems, leadership skills and emotional intelligence, and self-management skills such as active learning, stress tolerance and flexibility,” said the report. 

To keep up with these changes, people need to be constantly learning. 

Experts say technical skills and knowledge become obsolete every five years, and to maintain a current level of qualifications, people have to devote around 20 hours a week to training. But not all workers have the opportunity to do that due to lack of money or time. 

“In Kazakhstan, 26 percent of the population aged 25-64 say they are too busy at work to take courses, and 25 percent of citizens can’t afford additional education,” said the experts. 

This makes education even more important. To increase education levels requires creating the conditions for learning, but also instilling the importance of lifelong learning in the citizenry. 

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