Jobs will be one of the biggest areas of change driven by Asia’s digital economies, according to a study launched by Microsoft yesterday.

The study found that the majority of jobs in Asia Pacific (85%) will change over the next three years. Half of these will become higher value roles, or will need to be reskilled.

Governments will play a key role in ensuring that people have the right skills for these new jobs, said Ralph Haupter, President of Microsoft Asia, discussing the research on the economic impact of digital transformation.

“Organisations should still work on partnering with governments and education institutions to provide feedback, training and reskilling programs so that the workforce is equipped with future-ready skill sets,” he added.

In Singapore in particular, 93% of jobs will be transformed. However, 83% of the business leaders surveyed are confident that this will not pose too much of a problem, as they believe that millennials today have the skills they will need for these new roles in the future.

Artificial Intelligence will be the key driver of future economic growth in Asia Pacific, the study found. “The study shows that AI is top of mind when it comes to investing in emerging technologies today. We see AI as a primary catalyst for further growth,” Haupter said.

Businesses must integrate AI into their work to make the most of this potential. They should establish pilot projects for problems that can be solved with AI, Haupter recommended. Customer service and employee engagement through chatbots are two areas where they can get quick wins.

One of the key roles of government will be “providing a regulation framework to support innovation”, Haupter said. The Taiwan Government, for example, is looking to set up an AI research centre with Microsoft. The lab will help companies “get ahead of the curve” and help educate citizens on the impact of this emerging technology, Haupter added.

Despite concerns that AI will lead to job losses, the study found that the impact of technology on the number of jobs across Asia Pacific will be neutral. The number of jobs that will be automated is 27%, which is about the same as the number of new jobs that will be created – 26%.

Digital transformation will contribute to 60% of GDP in Asia by 2021, the study conducted in partnership with IDC found. This is a huge jump from the existing 6% of the economy, which is derived from digital products and services. By 2021, this will bring an additional US$1.16 trillion to the economy, according to the study.

The research surveyed 1,560 digital leaders across 15 countries in Asia Pacific.

Image by Microsoft