According to a report by McKinsey & Company, a massive number of Chinese workers might need to reskill in the light of increased workplace automation until 2030. In the report’s early automation scenario, 220 million Chinese workers would have to shift occupations, representing 36 percent of the world’s workforce projected to undergo such a change in the given time frame.
China has been taking huge steps towards transforming into a service society after years of relying on industrial production that has supplied the world with cheap merchandise. Due to the country’s population size, this means millions of work hours shifting from manual and basic cognitive skills to more advanced jobs.
According to the report’s midpoint scenario, a net of 144 billion hours of manual labor as well as 25 billion hours utilizing basic cognitive skills will be lost in China between 2018 and 2030. Higher cognitive skills and – to an even bigger extent – work hours tied to social and emotional skills as well as technological skills are expected to be gained. Even within these categories, the needs of employers will change significantly, which will cause additional reskilling to take place.
Chinese migrant workers, who come to the cities from rural areas, are expected to be heavily affected by the reskilling challenge which will affect 22 to 40 percent of their work, according to the report. Despite the changes brought about by automation, the number of Chinese migrant workers is expected to rise from 291 million to 331 million in 2030.