Fourth Industrial Revolution Creates and Demands Change

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing how we live our daily lives. If is changing how we produce and consume goods and the education we will require to be part of this change. The speed of the change swirling around us means that we need take stock of the skills that we have now, and learn how to quickly adapt and acquire skills that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will demand.

The World Economic Forum breaks industrial progress into these stages: In the Industrial Revolution of the late 1700s mechanical production developed through use of steam energy. In the 1800s electric power propelled the Second Industrial Revolution and moved the world into mechanical production. In the mid-1900s electronics and IT automated production, changed the way we learn and work, and paved the way for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Now, in a much shorter span of time, the Fourth Industrial Revolution impacts and connects businesses, individuals and the globe like never before.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, states in a report from the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in 2016, “Like the revolutions that preceded it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world.” It could also displace worker with technology, he says, but that in turn could result in an increase of safe and rewarding jobs.

Whether a person views the changes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as positive or negative, there is no doubt that it will be important for individuals and businesses to seize the opportunity to be part of the change. Schwab says, “However, I am convinced of one thing—that in the future, talent, more than capital, will represent the critical factor of production. This will give rise to a job market increasingly segregated into “low-skill/low-pay” and “high-skill/high-pay” segments, which in turn will lead to an increase in social tensions.
Continual, life-long education is the best way for individuals to have security in such as job market. Workers today, and in the future, are in a job market that has been evolving and will continue moving into new areas.
• Many of today’s in-demand jobs didn’t exist five to 10 years ago.
• Fifty percent of the subject knowledge obtained during the first year of a four-year technical degree becomes outdated by the time students graduate.
• 65 percent of children entering grade school today will work in new job types that don’t yet exist.
• Five years from now, 35 percent of skills that are important in the workforce will have changed.
• By 2020, more than a third of core skills for most jobs will be replaced by skills that aren’t yet considered important.

All this points to the change that continually affects business. Technology will produce changes that make some jobs obsolete and some change. As robotics or other technology take over tasks workers perform, workers will be able to work on other tasks. For businesses to survive they must have workers who are educated and trained to adapt, problem solve and meet new challenges.

Continuing education is as important for businesses as it is for individuals who need to learn skills demanded by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Businesses can’t simply hire new employees for each new skill. Skills change too fast. Re-skilling existing employees, creating continual education programs is, how businesses will stay competitive. “Creativity will become one of the top three skills workers will need,” according to the World Economic Forum. “With the avalanche of new products, new technologies and new ways of working, workers are going to have to become more creative in order to benefit from these changes. Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans (yet).”