The Future of Jobs: The Start of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

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The Future of Jobs: The Start of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Future of Jobs: The Start of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

One thing is constant and it is change. The world is changing and this change has been overtime evident in the different industrial revolution.

Few weeks ago, I attended a focus group discussion on employment in a global world. The discussion was one I will advocate for every educational institution. It was geared towards understanding student’s perception on course contents on what they understand by employment in a global context. The discussion opened a new chapter on the skill requirement of businesses and companies. Each student was given an exercise to access themselves on the various skills they possess that can benefit them in their future career path. Afterwards, the coordinator revealed the top ten skill requirement business owners look for in employees as drafted by the World Economic Forum survey. To my surprise, not one of my skill was on the list.  I am just one out of the many thousand graduates who are yet to understand the reality of the changing workspace. I was aware of the fast nature and change in technology however I was not fully prepared that I needed the same change to fit into my future desired role. Times are changing and so is the employment market.

The future is here and it is the fourth industrial revolution. The Fourth Industrial Revolution refers to how technologies like artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and the internet of things are merging with humans’ physical lives.  Technological changes are drastically altering how individuals, companies and governments operate. This will lead to a societal transformation similar to previous industrial revolutions. This will change the way we live, work and interact.

The First Industrial Revolution started in Britain around 1760. It was started through the introduction of the steam engine. The steam engine enabled new manufacturing processes, leading to the creation of factories.

The Second Industrial Revolution was between 1870 and 1914. It was characterized by mass production in new industries like steel, oil and electricity. The light bulb, telephone and internal combustion engine were some of the key inventions of this era.

The Third Industrial Revolution started in the 1960s. It is also called the digital revolution. The inventions of the semiconductor, personal computer and the internet.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized with a range of technologies which offers boundless possibilities. It is centered around the use of technology which has its negative and positive sides. Fourth Industrial Revolution is to focus on the technologies driving it. These include the following:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) describes computers that can “think” like humans to recognizie complex patterns, process information, draw conclusions, and make recommendations.

  • Block chain is a secure, decentralized, and transparent way of recording and sharing data, with no need to rely on third-party intermediaries. The digital currency Bitcoin is the best known block chain application. The technology can also be used in making supply chains traceable, securing sensitive medical data anonymously, and combating voter fraud.

  • New computational technologies are making computers smarter. They enable computers to process vast amounts of data faster than ever before, while the advent of the “cloud” has allowed businesses to safely store and access their information from anywhere with internet access, at any time.

  • Virtual Reality (VR) is the use of computer technology to create a simulated environment. It places the user inside an experience. Instead of viewing a screen in front of them, users are immersed and able to interact with 3D worlds. By simulating as many senses as possible, such as vision, hearing, touch, even smell, the computer is transformed into a gatekeeper to this artificial world. Examples include L’Oréal’s makeup app which allows users to digitally experiment with makeup products before buying them

  • Biotechnology uses cellular and bio molecular processes to develop new technologies and products for a range of uses, including developing new pharmaceuticals and materials, more efficient industrial manufacturing processes, and cleaner, more efficient energy sources. 

  • Robotics refers to the use of robots for personal and commercial use. Robots are used in manufacturing, health and safety, and human assistance.

  • 3D printing allows manufacturing businesses to print their own parts, with less tooling, at a lower cost, and faster than via traditional processes. Plus, designs can be customized to ensure a perfect fit.

  • Energy capture, storage, and transmission represent a growing market sector, created as a result of the falling cost of renewable energy technologies and improvements in battery storage capacity.

With the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution, companies and businesses are seeking to take advantage of the new and emerging technologies to achieve higher levels of efficiency in production, to expand to new markets and compete amongst major competitor.

According to the World Economic Forum, companies will experience four specific technological advances; ubiquitous high-speed mobile internet; artificial intelligence; widespread adoption of big data analytics; and cloud technology.

By 2022, companies are likely to have expanded their adoption of user and entity big data analytics. Large proportions of companies are likely to have expanded their adoption of technologies such as the internet of things and app- and web enabled markets, machine learning, virtual reality  and to make extensive use of cloud computing. It is alleged that automation will lead to reduction in full-time workforce by 2022.  With the automation of many jobs, new categories of jobs are emerging to replace those given over to the shift in work. Studies show that 65% of children entering primary school today will have jobs in categories that don't yet exist.

There is an era of new roles and jobs that has just began and the need for individuals with the desired skills are creeping in, the question is whose role is it to inform prospective employees of these changing times and teach them the skills necessary to function and be of use in their future career path and adapt to the ongoing technological change.

To build the workforce for the current industrial revolution, efforts need to be in place most especially by educational institutions and businesses to meet this workforce development challenge.

Businesses can create economic opportunity for millions of people by investing in education and training programme for existing and potential employees. Companies are great universities for educating the workforce of the future. They invest in training employees, as well as interns and apprentices, to drive growth and innovation, which in many cases amounts to specialized instruction and hands-on experience.

Curriculums in educational institutions should be flexible to adapt to changes in the workplace, they must be practicable and encourage critical thinking and innovative thinking.  Educational institutions should develop human potential which actively applies knowledge to collaborative problem solving.







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