Robots are taking over the garment industry in southeast Asia. And while these machines help companies make clothes quickly and cheaply, they also spell doom for a number of garment workers.
Enter Shimmy Upskill, a company trying to tackle the problem through an unexpected method: a video game that utilises artificial intelligence. Using the game, the company wants to teach female workers skills that will help them run the technology in place at their jobs, ultimately helping them stay employed — and possibly make more money — even after automation.
According to a 2016 report from the International Labor Organization, more than half of all workers in five Southeast Asian countries — Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam — face a high risk of job loss due to automation in the coming two decades. Jobs in the garment industry are especially at-risk: 64 per cent of Indonesians working in the textile, clothing, or footwear industry are at high risk of losing their jobs to automation, while in Cambodia that number climbs to 88 per cent.