Future of Work in Sri Lanka: Shaping technology transitions for a brighter future

What impact will emerging technologies associated with 4IR have on the future world of work in Sri Lanka? Who will be the winners and losers and what can governments, industry, and citizens do to prepare for the changes that lie ahead? In particular, we focus on three issues: Automation and Job Displacement; Employment Conditions; and Inequities in the Labour Market.

The World of Work is undergoing a major transformation. The interaction of several complex drivers — technological advancements, demographic transitions, shifting political cultures, and changing patterns of employment and production, amongst others — are heralding profound, and perhaps, unprecedented changes for the way people work and live. Most scholarly attention and public anxiety has been focused on the impact of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, which typically refers to a cluster of digitally-driven technologies such as artificial intelligence, intelligent automation, and robotics, among others, in the world of work. While global narratives oscillate between optimism and pessimism, these narratives need to be re-examined in light of the varying socio-economic contexts across the global south. In many countries in the global south, earlier industrial revolutions are still unfolding. Technology trajectories and their impact on the world of work will be shaped by political and social interactions at the local level. There is currently little discussion or evidence of the impact that emerging technologies will have on the future of work in developing countries. This study attempts to fill that gap.