South Korea embraces AI’s transformation of labour market

South Korea’s Minister of Employment and Labour has urged firms to be ready for new technologies and has pledged more support for employees.
By: | October 20, 2023

Amid growing concerns about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on employment, Lee Jung-sik, South Korea’s Minister of Employment and Labour, has highlighted the potential for AI to create new job opportunities while acknowledging the challenges it poses to certain occupations.

Speaking at the Korea Times Forum on Survival and Growth Strategies in the AI Era, Lee addressed the transformative impact of AI on the labour market, emphasising the need for adaptation and upskilling to navigate the evolving landscape.

“There will be jobs replaced by AI, but at the same time, many new jobs will be created,” he said, citing the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2023 Future of Jobs Report, which projects the creation of 69 million new jobs and the elimination of 83 million jobs by 2027.

Acknowledging the anxieties surrounding AI’s potential to render certain jobs obsolete, Lee emphasised the importance of embracing technological advancements rather than hindering progress. He referenced the case of the UK’s Locomotive Acts, which restricted the use of automobiles to protect horse-drawn carriage drivers, as an example of regulations that ultimately hindered innovation and economic growth.

“We should have the courage to accept new technologies to prepare for the future, like the winners of the previous industrial revolution did,” he said. “We should constantly study measures to utilise AI in a labour-friendly manner.”

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To mitigate the challenges posed by AI, Lee announced that the government would introduce various support programmes to help employees adapt to the rapidly evolving labour environment and emerging technologies. “In particular, the government will give priority to protecting those vulnerable to technological changes to ensure that they are not excluded from the labour market,” he said, reported The Korea Times