The Fourth Industrial Revolution

From artificial intelligence, 3D printing, robotics, and nanotechnologies to smart systems within our homes, the technological revolution may seem to affect every aspect of daily life. Unlike previous industrial revolution, today businesses must quickly adapt to survive the rapid growth of the digital transformation.

industrial revolution chronology

Overview of industrial revolutions

How will this affect our future employment?

Job forecasts for loss of employment range from 2 million to 2 billion by 2030 (WEF, 2017). Research supports the loss of many job roles such as office clerks, administrative staff, and transportation drivers. However, new roles will be created for positions in engineering, management, computer science, business and finance operations, education, and sales.

The World Economic Forum predicts that many jobs will not be affected by digitalization with machines and algorithms replacing people, but from the inclusion such technology in the profession’s the daily activities. For example professions that rely heavily on social capability or cognitive skills such as doctors and surgeon or careers in the creative arts will remain untouched.

industrial revolution employment

Expected change in employment, 2015-2020, %

The Future of Jobs Report focuses on the following key solutions to avert future job loss:

  • Promote lifelong education:
    Similar to how older generations lack adaptability skills in regards to new technology such as hooking up a cable TV box or navigating an IPhone, our generation will face new technology that we have to learn how to use. As technology advances, younger generations will struggle to remain competitive with the new advancements of the industry. By promoting lifelong learning, the existing workforce can adapt to new technologies through training.
  • Innovate the education system:
    Education that focuses on training student to use tools from the 20th century that will be replaced by a future technology brings the workforce to a large disadvantage. Business innovation should merge with governments to advice regulators what skill sets favor a curriculum that best serves the job market.
  • Rethink the HR department
    The Human Resource department will have to adapt in recruiting the right skills as fast as the technology is hitting the market. This means that HR managers will have to devise strategic analytics that forecast trends and skill gaps in order to keep the business on top of the changing market.
  • Optimizing data analytics
    The usage of new technologies with algorithms and data forecasting will be imperative for the private and public sectors growth and resilience to the changing industry.

Olivia Meiners

References

Marr, B. (2016). Forbes Welcome. [online] Forbes.com. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2016/04/05/why-everyone-must-get-ready-for-4th-industrial-revolution/#71c1d52f3f90 [Accessed 16 May 2017].

World Economic Forum (2016). The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 1st ed. [ebook] Geneva: World Economic Forum. Available at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_FOJ_Executive_Summary_Jobs.pdf [Accessed 16 May 2017].

World Economic Forum (2017). Understanding the impact of digitalization on society. [online] Digital Transformation. Available at: http://reports.weforum.org/digital-transformation/understanding-the-impact-of-digitalization-on-society/ [Accessed 16 May 2017].