The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Described as an incoming thunderstorm; a sweeping pattern of change visible in the distance, arriving at a pace that affords little time to prepare, this is The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus spoke on change as being the only constant, 2,500 years later and these words are as true as they were during his time.

From the mechanization of manufacturing at the end of the 18th Century, to mass production between 1870-1914, information and communications technology in the early 1970s and today; robotics, Artificial Intelligence, an internet of things, digitalization, automation. . . the Fourth Industrial Revolution(4IR) is unravelling itself in an amazing form of agility.

The 4IR is a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres, said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

It has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world. Consumers able to afford and access the digital world have gained the most from it. Innovation in technology will see transportation and communication costs dropping, logistics and global supply chains will become more effective and the diminishing of the cost of trade which will lead to the opening up of new markets and drive economic growth.

However, the prediction of five million jobs lost by 2022 to technology is serious, but it’s not the main question. Construction, manufacturing services, public health and education: these industries will still exist. The main question is, what will be the future of work? How will we define work? How will we share the wealth?

From the viewpoint of labour or jobs, we dearly need new education or new training. One of the most important things to do to stay competitive in this changing business climate will be reskilling (the practice of retraining employees to learn the skills that are required to function in a modern company). 54% of workers will need a significant amount of reskilling by 2022, which will mostly be focused on a set of skills that are defined by the new economy. These include things like analytical thinking, innovation, technology design and programming, all reflecting the growing demand for proficiency in technology. At the same time, human skills like creativity, originality and critical thinking will retain or increase their value too.

There’s a silver lining to all of this: the outlook for jobs is looking pretty good. Across all industries we’ll see new roles increase from 16% to 27%, while declining roles will decrease from 31% to 21%. And about half of today’s jobs will remain stable until 2022. So while change will always be a constant and the future is coming at us fast, we don’t have to be too scared about it yet.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is seen to have the power to make inequalities visible and to make them(inequalities) less acceptable in the future. Hopefully it garners political support to reduce the gap.