After 240 years and nearly four industrial revolutions later, the world continues to move forward by leaps and bounds. What can we expect at the end of this fourth revolution? Which skills will become redundant? Which positions will survive the automation storm?
It was 1784 when the rise of mechanical engineering gave way for mass and automated production to take over the job landscape by 1970. Computers and other electronics were welcomed with open arms as they fueled dreams of living in a utopia; with self-driving cars and facial recognition technology.
Now that artificial intelligence, big data, and robotics have made these dreams a reality, what is left lingering are equal parts of excitement and uncertainty.
Going through this fourth industrial revolution, commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, feels like living in a rush. The next big trend is impossible to foresee and, by the time you catch up with it, it has already become old news.
However, the underpinning theme or direction of the global market is evident: automation. Here is where the uncertainty kicks in.
Oxford Economics predicts that by 2030 approximately 20 million manufacturing jobs will be managed by robots.
Automation will start getting pushed towards areas in the workplace that require more responsibility and critical judgment, which is an upgrade from the back-end role automation has played until now.
At this stage, though, such advancements are not necessarily threatening to the existing workforce.
For those who currently work in manufacturing jobs: expect training, lots of it. Skillsets will need to be reconsidered and adjusted so that employees’ competencies match and grow accordingly to the technological advancements.
Moreover, the World Economic Forum predicts that the fourth industrial revolution will create more jobs than the ones it will be replacing.
Their estimates suggest that 100 million new jobs will arise in the areas of technology (AI, cloud computing), product development, engineering, social media management, and content writing, specifically in sectors that hold green economies at their core.
Lastly, let us remember that at the end of the day, even the most perfectly engineered machine still lacks a vital feature to replace humans: consciousness.
Machines are taught how to perform activities, while humans can use critical thinking and emotional intelligence to infer how to react to a given situation.
Funny enough, as the world of Data and AI keeps on growing; so is the demand for soft skills such as the following:
- Complex Problem Solving
- Critical Thinking
- People Management
- Emotional Intelligence
- Cognitive Flexibility
- Judgment and Decision Making
These are the skills that will feed the technology to push innovation and development across fields. Once again, it is evident that digitalization and automation are valuable only when combined with the human brain.