JOB SEEKERS attend a job fair in Manila, May 31, 2023. — PHILIPPINE STAR/EDD GUMBAN

COUNTRIES should increasingly use education technology (EdTech) to better prepare its workers who are facing increasing risk of job loss due to rapid technological advancements, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said.

In its “Reimagine Tech-Inclusive Education: Evidence, Practices, and Road Map” report, the ADB said jobs involving repetitive tasks or those that are easily codified are more likely to be automated, such as jobs in manufacturing, data entry and some service industries.

“In Southeast Asia, more than half of the combined workforce of 137 million in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are at risk of displacement by robots, particularly in the garment manufacturing industry,” it said.

In the Philippines, the ADB said around 20.1% of workers face a “high risk” of losing their jobs, while 15.7% have a “medium risk.”

“Preparing for the jobs of tomorrow will require workers to have a robust skill set with technological, higher-order cognitive and behavioral skills underpinned by strong foundational skills developed through solid primary and secondary education,” the ADB said.

Education systems should address not just the ongoing learning crisis but also the recent learning losses caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it said.

Data from the ADB showed that 21% of children from middle-income countries who are of school age by 2030 will not learn basic primary-level skills.

Since current learning methods are insufficient to address the issue of students not acquiring basic skills, governments should consider increasing the use of EdTech.

“The integration of third-generation technologies such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality/virtual reality in education can be expected to transform traditional teacher-centric models into digital age, learner-centered approaches,” the ADB said.

EdTech products include learning management systems, mobile learning apps, online open courses, assessment platforms, and quiz tools. 

“The effective use of EdTech is integral to learning recovery strategies, especially in remote and self-directed learning. The variety of approaches reveals the diversity of recovery mechanisms to be used, depending on a country’s digital education readiness,” it added.

Apart from learning recovery, EdTech can also be used for upskilling and reskilling.

“EdTech can enhance career planning through data utilization, assessments, tutoring, and learning plans. Higher education career services have adopted EdTech to streamline processes, collect data, and provide career and employability information resources,” it added.

In the Philippines, the ADB noted the need for the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) sector to become more competitive.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution and advanced automation technologies threaten an estimated 18.2 million jobs,” it said.

The ADB also noted the lack of TVET opportunities for the marginalized sector, as well as those in remote communities.

“These critical challenges present significant opportunities for increased investment in human capital and workforce skills development to meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” it added.

The ADB noted the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) expanded its online program to reach more students.

“The high demand for TESDA programs prompted the use of technology-driven delivery to broaden reach and adopt a more inclusive approach… The impact of (TESDA Online Program) as a TVET learning platform demonstrates the power and potential of technology to scale quality learning,” it added.

Since its launch in 2011, the program has garnered 1.1 million registered users. Of this, 71.3% are enrolled learners.

“Education systems must respond to the changing needs of society by teaching the skills necessary for work and good citizenship. Digital environments have become omnipresent, and people need the basic competency that enables their safe, healthy, effective, and appropriate use,” the ADB added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson