Officials at the International Labour Organisation are looking at ways to adapt as technological advancements look set to disrupt or destroy some jobs while creating new forms of employment, which will require upskilling.
ILO commissioned a global report on the future of work to study changes that affect the world of work, provide ideas on how to manage and leverage transformations to make the work decent.
The report was released earlier this year.
Recently, Rwanda held the National Employment Forum to contextualize the Future of Work report and discuss challenges facing the labour market amid unemployment, underemployment and skills gaps.
The Minister of Labour, Fanfan Rwanyindo Kayirangwa said that technological advancements will kill some jobs, but new ones will also be created.
This will call for new skills acquisition to cope with the trends that affect employment.
According to the report, “collaborative robots can reduce work-related stress and potential injuries; but technology-driven processes can also render labour redundant, ultimately alienating workers and stunting their development.” The ILO report calls for a “human-centred approach” where people play a key role in employment.
Wellington Chibebe, the director of ILO in East Africa, said adaptation to technological advancement is a process and requires preparation.
The government plans to create 1.5 million off-farm jobs by 2024, according to the National Strategy for Transformation (NTS), a seven-year government economic development programme.
While technological changes such as automation could transform employment, kill some jobs; unemployment and underemployment are still big challenges affecting the country’s labour force.
Data from the 2018 annual Labour Force survey released by the National Institute of Statistics shows unemployment stood at 15.1 per cent, with every one person out of seven being unemployed.
Economic experts say unemployment is not the only indicator of unmet needs of the labour market. Underemployment is also a big challenge in the country.
According to the Minister of Labour and Public Service, technology has caused a shift in some jobs by creating new ones.
A recent example is smart transportation, which saw the introduction of cashless payments in Kigali’s public transport sector that saw conductors to become jobless but created new jobs for agents who charge and sell plastic cards used by passengers.
Mr Chibebe said the local labour force like others around the world must reskill to cope with new technologies.
The ILO study calls for ‘life learning’ as one way to deal with these changes.