What is the best way to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

by Brett Henebery21 Aug 2017
What is the best way for today’s employee to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

With automation and robotics ramping up across multiple industries, this question might seem a no-brainer to many, who will answer with: ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) training’.

However, according to some L&D professionals, preparing for the disruption ahead is more about flexibility than simply honing in on a specific set of skills.

Sarah Rodgers, principal at iolite consulting, says that as the impact of AI and automation continues to impact workplaces, and indeed, society, it's important that people look at their careers as being more malleable.

“This can be done by taking a more flexible approach and by being adaptive to change, it should have less of an emotional impact,” Rodgers said.

“Estimates are now saying that people will have numerous careers, so multi-skilling should also be a priority as people manage their careers.”

Rodgers said that emotional intelligence and the ability to show empathy and build and maintain relationships will also become increasingly important as the competition for jobs increases.

Andres Jonmundsson, head of learning and development at Fuji Xerox Australia, told L&D Professional that curation skills are becoming more relevant as learning content aligns to organisational competency frameworks.

“An example of this is using a tool like ‘LinkedIn learning’ to satisfy the organisational eLearning needs and then focusing on the application of that learning in short power sessions,” he explained.

Jonmundsson said that, additionally, knowing how to design ‘chatbots’ is becoming a contemporary skill to have.

“These can be designed easily using tools like ‘Chatfuel’ and linking the chatbot to a platform like Facebook messenger,” he said.

Mark McPherson, a speaker, trainer and coach, says the Fourth Industrial Revolution is fascinating and exciting, but at the same time, like most revolutions, a little scary. 

“It's about a massive increase in the number of mobile devices with incredible processing power and storage capacity,” he told L&D Professional.

“And we're talking about incredible increases in the amount of knowledge and everyone's access to it. There are amazing developments in the areas of artificial intelligence for example and robotics.”

However, McPherson said that as reports are showing, many current jobs will “simply disappear” as the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes shape.

“This will be true at least in those countries that have access to the revolution and for those groups that have access to it. And along with that, many new jobs will be created – as I always have been,” he said.

“I think the most frightening thing for people is a lot of Jobs will simply not exist and a good example of this is the coal mine that was proposed Queensland.”

McPherson said the government promised over 10,000 new jobs but then changed it to just few thousand.

“Then the actual owners of the proposed coal mine told us that be maybe just a 1,000 because it would be the most automated coal mine and processing plan the world is ever soon,” he said.

“Perhaps it goes without saying then that the most valuable job skills – or at least the ones that are more needed – in the Forth Industrial Revolution will be those related to the design and production of automated systems, like technology and robotics.”

“This includes the design and the production of them. People will still have to actually produce them and maybe manually – although that might be automated as well.”

McPherson said just like with the industrial revolution, companies were left wondering what they would do with all the people who were doing all the manual labour that would be done by machines.

“I think many people are now wondering what will we do with all the people who are presently on the production lines,” he said.

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