The first few words that the term the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) brings in people’s minds are: machines, technology, and unemployment. It is commonly perceived that in the upcoming years the advancement of technology will be a catastrophe for the current labor force as the skill set of millions will become obsolete. 

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution creates a world in which virtual and physical systems of manufacturing cooperate with each other in a flexible way at the global level.”

Klaus Schwab, the founder of WEF

In simple words, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) or Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0) is the current automation of the traditional manufacturing practices and integration of technology in daily human life. 

Mckinsey & Company, one of the top global management consulting firms, has predicted that around 800 million workers of just 42 countries may get replaced due to 4IR. While the World Economic Forum (WEF) – the founder of whom coined the term 4IR – stated that automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will have an impact on 1.2 billion employees globally in the upcoming ten years. 

Jobs will be slashed and low-skilled workers may heavily suffer in this era of technology. However, the big question is: is this suffering inevitable? The answer is no. 

Automation is expected to only eliminate around 5% of the current jobs. Today’s workforce requires upskilling and reskilling. Under upskilling, a worker learns new skills to improve their current performance, while under reskilling, a worker is taught new skills to be able to do new tasks. Digital skills will be required by 90% of the jobs

The results of the survey below illustrate how only a small percentage of the workforce requires lengthy periods of reskilling.

Moreover, job creation will also take place due to 4IR. The demand for cybersecurity professionals in India alone is expected to reach 2 million by 2022. Those possessing the following skills will also be highly sought-after: creativity, problem-solving, leadership and people management, and critical thinking. 

Unfortunately, a somewhat pessimistic viewpoint has been generated amongst the global population regarding 4IR. The focus should be on upskilling and reskilling the workforce instead of the job losses that may arise.
The youth are being strongly urged to equip themselves with digital skills, such as computer programming and coding, along with soft skills, like collaboration, and cultural awareness. The fourth Industrial Revolution has begun and we must take the necessary steps required to reap the benefits this revolution has to offer.

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