New technologies like robotics, 3D printing and cloud will take jobs from low-skilled workers in developing Asian countries, according to a new study by the Asian Development Bank.

In South East Asia, Thailand will suffer the most with about 26% of currently stable jobs at high risk of being lost to technology. Around 21% of stable jobs in Indonesia, 20% in the Philippines and 15% in Vietnam are also at high risk.

While jobs that involve simple routine tasks will largely be lost to technology, there will be higher demand for employees who can solve more complex tasks, and think creatively and innovatively.

The study said that countries may have to change the kind of skills they deliver to meet this demand. Apart from improving the quality of basic education, these countries will also have to build a higher education system that can develop more of the highly technical skills. “Economies that invest in providing high-quality education are likely to be less affected by disruptive innovations – and will be better placed to exploit them,” the ADB said.

Technologies are already altering the kind of skills needed in the future. “Computerisation and automation likely have already had some role to play in dampening the demand for workers, at least in manufacturing,” it said. But “more recent advances could seriously alter the mix of skills, and not just in manufacturing”.

3D printing and robots can reduce the cost of producing smaller and customisable items, making it more efficient for production to be located near the source of demand. “This could alter skill demands by placing more emphasis on engineers, graphic designers, and printing operators,” said the ADB.

Similarly, cloud technologies give highly skilled workers in developing countries opportunities to market their skills abroad, and obtain a higher wage without leaving their home.