Should we look at the 4th Industrial Revolution with excitement or fear?

by Stefan Lauber

Should we look at the 4th Industrial Revolution with excitement or fear? There is widespread agreement that it will lead to largescale job losses, particularly if the work is repetitive and low skilled.

A report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) anticipates that 75 million jobs will be destroyed but it also forecast than another 133 million new jobs will be created with a net gain of 58 millions.

Jack Ma, from Alibaba, the Chinese Internet giant, predicts that humans will do whatever machines can’t do. But instead of pitting machines against people, he sees that machines will become human partners that will open new opportunities for humanity. 

Foretelling the future is nearly impossible. But we do not need to be helpless bystanders. We can imagine possible future scenarios and then purposefully work towards creating for ourselves the scenario that we prefer most.

Even though the future is uncertain, we can confidently anticipate that:

  • Technology will change entire industries
  • As organizational configurations will change, people will have to be able to transition into new roles
  • Traditional employment relationships will be replaced with short term engagement. A large number of people will be self-employed.  
  • People will need continuously new skills. Lifelong learning will not be an option but a fact of life.
  • Companies will have to get more and more involved in the development of these skills because schools won’t be able to teach the skills that we do not even know of today
  • As other industries will change, so will education. Traditional modes of training delivery will be complemented with new ones.

A key factor for people to prepare themselves for the future, will be that they position themselves proactively. We should, as individuals or organisations:

  1. Take stock of our strengths and skills
  2. Create a vision of where we want to be and how we see ourselves making a contribution
  3. Identify the gaps between where we are today and where we want to be in future
  4. Develop a broad action for the next 5 years
  5. Define a detailed action plan for the next year
  6. Regularly revise our progress and adjust our course of action accordingly

Critical area to consider for us to transition will be that we have the necessary skills. What skills will be in demand?

  • IT skills such Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation, Data Science and Analytics, User Experience Design, Internet of Things and Augmented Reality
  • Problem solving skills, logical thinking and mathematical skills are required
  • Entrepreneurial skills because a lot of people will be self-employed. Managerial skills will remain important.
  • Caring skills such as nursing, teaching or counselling. Proportional to the increased role for technology the desire for the warmth of the human touch will raise
  • Empathy, soft human and creative skills will be need more than ever to help improve human interaction and innovation.

iFundi is well positioned to prepare you for the future. We offer in-depth training in key digital skills but also close to 100 soft, entrepreneurial and management skills.

To request more information on our digital skills course, click here.