How The Fourth Industrial Revolution Changed How We Work
All industries are becoming digital in their processes, products, or services. This is changing the structure of many businesses. Business systems and processes now leverage digital technology today. For example, they store files and communicate digitally.
Also, many brands are embracing remote work with staff working from their homes using digital devices. Some of today’s cars are literally computers on wheels with sensors that are connected to the internet. Many schools and colleges turned to virtual classes during the pandemic. Consultants and coaches offer both in-person and virtual training.
There are speculations about how these shifts will affect the lives of 21st-century workers. Let’s see how these shifts are changing jobs and work.
A LOT OF JOBS ARE PHASING OUT
At the end of 2019, there were over 2.6 million robots worldwide. There are several factors that cause unemployment but we also have robot-induced unemployment. Over 2/3 of the jobs replaced by robots are in automotive, electrical/electronics, and metal machinery industries.
Alibaba and Amazon use robots to move the products around their warehouses. People who previously had those jobs lost it to robots. When this kind of job loss happens consistently and on a large scale, it is called technology-induced unemployment.
Sberbank replaced 3000 lawyers with Robo-lawyers in 2017. They sort through documents and put some information together. Human lawyers still handle litigation.
MSN fired 77 writers in June 2020 and replaced them with an artificially intelligent bot that can curate news and edit it or modify the paragraphs.
Flippy the cook, a robot cook is powered by AI.
These technologies are replacing people in jobs that involve physical work and mental tasks as well. In some cases, technology supports the human effort. technology is progressing to the point of Artificial Intelligent robots being able to do creative work. Some people are afraid about this but all hope is not lost as these changes allow humans to focus on more specialised work.
NEW JOBS ARE EMERGING
New types of jobs are evolving. Jobs like social media managers,, app developers,, virtual reality consultants, data analysts, and Uber drivers didn't exist 10 years ago. Right now companies are looking to fill in these job roles.
As innovators use digital technologies to find new ways of solving old and new problems, new jobs emerge. According to research by Deloitte, technology historically creates more jobs than it destroys. This view is subject to debate. While this claim about technology may be true, it doesn’t measure the quality of jobs created and if these jobs go to the people who lost theirs to technology. Such findings are relative to the industry or countries which these technologies disrupt. We need to consider the nature of jobs that are created afterwards. Some online jobs lack job security and work-life balance.
In Sub Saharan Africa, the demand for interface experts, digital creators, designers and engineers, soft infrastructure (eldercare, childcare, and education), are set to increase. Creative industries, food technology, 3D designers, Data centre workers, care, education, green jobs, and health are increasing in demand.
Workers need to reskill and upskill for jobs like this so they can remain relevant.
THERE IS A DYNAMIC DEMAND FOR SKILLS IN THE WORKPLACE
Businesses hire based on the skill sets and competencies they need on their team at a certain time, and not based on the skills applicants have. Some skills required today may not be required in the next three years. Thus, the demand for skills is dynamic. You need to learn, adapt and stay ahead of the curve.
The demand for some skills rises as challenges come with these shifts. In 2017, over a few days, there was a massive ransomware attack on over 230,000 computers in about 150 countries. Airlines cancelled flights, hospitals cancelled surgeries, people couldn't access their data without paying bitcoins to access the information on their devices. Events like this increase the demand for ethical hackers and cybersecurity personnel.
As the world is changing, there will be gaps. Employers look for people with the skills to fill some of these gaps. Generally, jobs need more knowledge of ICT now than before. This is partly because a lot of business processes are going online.
6 things you can do to keep up with the shifts in the fourth industrial revolution
These changes are going on at different rates in the nations of the world. Unlike many voices in the media suggest, industry 4.0 is not all gloom and doom of the 21st-century worker. If you know how to find the learning and networking opportunities to build your career you can leverage the change to your advantage. In the paragraphs below I share a few ways you can do this.
Keep tabs on what skill sets are desirable for roles you are looking to fit.
One of the ways to know what skills your prospective employers may be scouting for is by looking through current job postings. You can find open positions on sites like LinkedIn or Jobberman, or the careers website of the company you hope to work with. Observe what skills, experiences, and qualities they are looking for in the applicant. These can serve as a guide on what learning experiences you should look out for.
Find a person who has a similar career path on LinkedIn or Niche social media sites.
Observe their career progression. What skills did they get? What professional certificates do they have? What organisations are they volunteering with? You can engage them in a conversation and glean insights on how to position yourself for a bright career.
Avoid consuming too much information and choose learning opportunities that give you the skills and experiences you need.
There is more information online than you can consume in a lifetime. There’s still some debate about whether access to unlimited information is a good thing but remember you have limited time, focus, and energy to productively interact with the information online. Create a career plan and narrow your focus to learning and activities that help you cover significant milestones in your career journey.
Attend career webinars and training with HR managers to learn how to improve your CV and interview experience.
Unemployment and the gradual decline of demand for some skills is real. However, having all the necessary skills for the roles you want without employability skills is like a playlet in the dark. Follow the conversations of recruiters and talent managers online or in seminars to know what to do or avoid in your search for job opportunities. While choosing who to follow, look out for those in your country or the country you hope to get hired in because culture and norms can influence what the recruiters or employers expect from applicants and staff of their organisations. Also attend future of work webinars or follow brands like Mckinsey and the World Economic Forum to get predictions on future skills.
Build relationships and join online communities deliberately.
There are tons of very crucial current information that you will find only when you have the right set of people in your inner circle. Insights that can make or break your career are hiding in the minds of people working in your industry. Those ideas and thoughts may never make it to webinars, ebooks, or online classes. Having conversations with your network can help you learn about unnoticed career opportunities and get referrals that matter. Some online communities hold niche-specific conversations that can be eye-openers to new ideas and open roles.
Build soft skills.
Soft skills enable you to work with people smoothly and effectively. Skills like communication, teamwork, emotional intelligence, etc. Some employers price these skills higher than they do technical and hard skills. For example, if you are building your career as a front-end developer, if you need to make presentations and convince the management of the company to make certain decisions you will need communication and negotiation skills.
Today’s ‘new jobs’ will become tomorrow’s ‘obsolete’ roles. The philosophy and drive behind applying these technologies can be either replacing or enhancing the human labor in our work processes. Decision-makers can choose how to design and adopt the technology. In the future, they should be accountable to society and ensure that these technologies are designed to truly serve people.
Accept that this new normal of constant change will continue as long as innovation continues. To remain relevant in the changing world of work, embrace a lifestyle of learning. Even if the career you have chosen remains for the next 50 years, you will solve old problems with new tools governed by modified values, laws, and policies.
Lastly, focus on finding fulfilling work and not getting caught in a rat race against technology. No technology is human enough to replace our intrinsic human qualities like empathy and creativity.