Gov’t vows to offer support programs to help adapt to new environment
By Jun Ji-hye
Artificial intelligence (AI) tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT will provide not only challenges, but also opportunities in the labor market, Employment and Labor Minister Lee Jung-sik said, amid growing fears about AI taking over people’s jobs.
The minister made the comments during the Korea Times Forum under the theme of “Survival and Growth Strategies in the AI Era,” Wednesday.
“There will be jobs replaced by AI, but at the same time, many new jobs will be created,” the minister said in his special speech on labor market changes and prospects in the AI era.
Lee cited the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2023 Future of Jobs Report, which noted that 69 million new jobs will be created, and 83 million will be eliminated by 2027.
In the report, the WEF anticipated that the fastest-growing jobs will be AI and machine learning specialists, business intelligence analysts and information security specialists, while the fastest declining roles will include bank tellers, cashiers and data entry clerks.
The minister acknowledged that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing people’s lives rapidly, and the trends are difficult to predict, causing fears that AI could make humans redundant.
In March, Goldman Sachs estimated that white-collar workers will be some of the most likely to be affected by the fast-growing technology, while a new study released in the same month by researchers at OpenAI and the University of Pennsylvania suggested that educated, white-collar workers making up to $80,000 a year will be the most affected by AI.
However, the minister said that hindering development due to fears about AI causing job losses is not the answer.
He cited an example of the Locomotive Acts, also known as red flag laws, which were passed in the United Kingdom in the late 19th century to regulate the use of mechanically propelled vehicles to protect coaches drawn by horses.
“The laws remained in place for 30 years to protect the jobs of coach drivers, but are now cited as one of the best examples of anachronistic regulations, as the United Kingdom eventually fell behind the United States and Germany in the auto industry,” Lee said.
The minister pointed out that AI could bring about positive effects, such as boosting productivity and improving the physical and mental health of workers, once the technologies are utilized effectively.
“We should have the courage to accept new technologies to prepare for the future, like the winners of the previous industrial revolution did,” Lee said. “We should constantly study measures to utilize AI in a labor-friendly manner.”
He stressed that the government will offer various support programs to help workers adapt to the new labor environment and technologies amid rapid changes.
“In particular, the government will give priority to protecting those vulnerable to technological changes to ensure that they are not excluded from the labor market,” he said.