As 2018 comes to a close, the industrial automation market is preparing to further digitize and automate industries into 2019.
McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) reports that by 2030 about 15 percent of workers around the world will be displaced by automation. However, they also note that employees are unaware that eight to nine percent of them will work in jobs that don't yet exist.
Consequently, automation will not only replace repetitive jobs, but also create new opportunities in many industries. This is why a culture of life-long learning is critical; a willingness to upskill and cross-skill.
Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, Steve Mackay, believes emphatically that automation will preserve the engineer, not replace him/her. However, Steve notes that they should take responsibility for their futures, by being aware of the changes occurring in the industry.
"You may be doing something today, but tomorrow you will be doing something completely different," he said, in a lecture.
"The most important message is that you should commit to continuous professional development. Look for the job demands of the country you are based in and be open to opportunities to learn and skill up. Every country needs certain kinds of engineer - in fact - every town has its own particular demands.”
Global innovation requires engineers
What should educational institutions be including in their curricula, to ensure students are equipped to tackle Industry 4.0? How much on-the-job training needs to occur in industries that have introduced more automated processes into their businesses?
Those are essential questions that organizations are collectively asking. However, getting the average person interested and skilled in using new technologies is a tall order.
The World Economic Forum has invested in the construction of 12 Fourth Industrial Revolution centers around the world that will familiarize the public with the kinds of technologies one would and will see in the Industry 4.0 world.
Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum said:
"The centers are looking at eight different technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, drone technology, big data, precision medicine and so on, to develop the necessary ethical views, policies and regulations around these technologies which can be applied on a global level."
Schwab, in a recent video by WEF, commented on how unprepared the world is for the current digital revolution. He points out that it is those with technical backgrounds who are vital to the growth of the fourth industrial revolution, and perhaps a better world for all.
And workers with technical skills are more likely to circumnavigate the hollowing out of jobs that Industry 4.0 technologies threaten. CareerBuilder’s CEO Irina Novoselsky explains:
“Most of the fastest-growing occupations have a technical component to them. Workers across all job levels will need to continually pursue opportunities to upskill in order to maneuver around accelerated shifts in labor demand. This is a particularly pressing issue for middle-wage workers who are at greater risk of becoming displaced and workers in general who want to move up into better-paying jobs.”
The World Economic Forum's 2018 Future of Jobs Report aptly said that 54 percent of all employees will need ‘significant re- and up skilling' by the year 2022, to meet the changes coming to workplaces.
Ellingrud, Kweilin. “The Upside Of Automation: New Jobs, Increased Productivity And Changing Roles For Workers.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23 Oct. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/kweilinellingrud/2018/10/23/the-upside-of-automation-new-jobs-increased-productivity-and-changing-roles-for-workers/#276a7b1e7df0.
Letsebe, Kgaogelo. “WEF to Establish Industry 4.0 Centre in SA.” ITWeb, ITWeb, 28 June 2018, www.itweb.co.za/content/VgZeyvJAONaqdjX9.
Morgan, Hannah. “To Fend Off Your Robot Replacement, Reinvest in Job Training.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/articles/2018-10-19/warning-you-need-to-reinvest-in-job-training.