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Beyond the Portal: Reimagining the Post-Pandemic Future of Work

Neha Kumar
Nithya Sambasivan
ACM interactions (2020)


Vocational technicians are a critical labour force transitioning from high school education to skilled technicians, specialising in fields like data entry operations, electrical wiring, and welding. An estimated 1.5 million students are enrolled in over 13,000 vocational training institutes in India, and the national government has further plans to train 500 million Indians by 2022 [3]. India, like many countries of the Global South, has a large youth demographic dividend--over half the population is below 25 years of age. Workers enter the vocational trade to fulfil their economic and social aspirations, often coming from oppressed caste and class backgrounds. Despite the heavy investment and growth in the vocational labour force, impacts of automation and economic downturn may likely significantly affect these technicians, due to the predictable, repetitive, and frequently mechanistic nature of their jobs. Across the Global South, entire industries built around rule-based jobs like call centres, technology outsourcing, and low-level factory jobs could face the risk of job destabilisation from automation and global catastrophes.