Labour Ministry Forms Taskforce to Study Impact of AI on Future of Work

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Amid the ongoing discussion about the impact of artificial intelligence on the job market, the Labour Ministry in India has formed a taskforce to assess the effects of this emerging technology on the “future of work”.

According to the Economic Times, Labour Secretary Sumitra Dawra stated, “… the government of India has constituted a taskforce to study AI’s impact on the future of work and more research is required in this area.” Dawra made these remarks during an event co-hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Employers’ Federation of India (EFI) in Telangana on Friday, July 5.

The report highlighted Dawra’s reference to the Periodic Labour Force Survey, where she noted the creation of eight crore new jobs in India over the past five years. She attributed this growth to the flourishing domestic startup ecosystem.

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Regarding the gig economy, Dawra mentioned that India currently accommodates nearly 1 crore gig workers and anticipates this number to rise to 2.4 crore by 2030. Additionally, the Labour Secretary mentioned the consolidation of 29 labor laws into four Labour Codes by the Centre, aimed at improving the business environment for startups and enterprises.

These comments from Dawra come at a time when numerous industry stakeholders have expressed concerns about the impact of AI on the job market. Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran recently stated that AI and GenAI would result in job losses in sectors undergoing automation.

In May, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Secretary S Krishnan also voiced apprehension about the potential job losses due to AI. Additionally, chief economic advisor (CEA) V Anantha Nageswaran highlighted that AI could lead to significant disruptions, particularly for India compared to other nations.

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Earlier this year, Zoho co-founder Sridhar Vembu, along with former NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar and iSPIRIT Foundation co-founder Sharad Sharma, urged the government to regulate the technology, warning that it could jeopardize millions of jobs.

Consequently, many Indian startups have already implemented AI to automate and streamline their operations, resulting in job losses. For instance, Paytm has laid off around 1,000 employees due to AI-led automation, while InMobi was planning to dismiss 125 employees earlier this year as a result of AI deployment.

Moreover, the emergence of AI has prompted the need to upskill employees as the technology renders many current roles redundant. A study conducted by ServiceNow and Pearson projects that AI and automation will require the reskilling and upskilling of 16.2 million workers in India by 2027.

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Simultaneously, the report indicates that the new technology will also create 4.7 million new tech jobs by 2027.

These developments occur as the excitement around GenAI continues to captivate the world. According to an Inc42 report, India is home to over 100 GenAI startups that have raised more than $600 million between 2019 and 2023. This growth points to the expanding Indian AI space, projected to become a $17 billion market opportunity by 2030.

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