Resourcing for a Revolution

The implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the labour market

The Fourth Industrial Revolution – or Industry 4.0 – is set to transform the way we live, learn, socialise and work. The impact will be felt across every sector, in every country across the globe, as we start to see a fundamental shift in the way that humans interact with technology and communicate with each other.

Here, we examine the implications for the global labour market and explore how businesses can utilise the talent at their disposal to drive their own transformation as part of the revolution.


 Talking about a Revolution

The next stage of technological evolution will not just make our lives more convenient, our jobs simpler, our communication more seamless. It will fundamentally transform the way we live, learn, work, socialise and communicate, both with each other and with the technology around us. We are at the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: a period of progress that is set to change everything.

With the mass rollout of robotics, 5G, LiFi and machine learning imminent – as well as quantum computing and ‘true’ Artificial Intelligence potentially on the horizon – the Fourth Industrial Revolution is set to spark a global shift, one that will reverberate through virtually every aspect of our lives. As Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, comments; “In its scale, scope and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.”

When will this Fourth Industrial Revolution begin in earnest? Well, with technology unlocking huge advances, shaping a very real future with autonomous vehicles, remote surgery, smart homes and cities, many would argue that it already has. It is now time for organisations across the globe to ensure that they are prepared for the seismic changes and opportunities it will bring, particularly when it comes to identifying the skills they need to safeguard or enhance their future relevance to the broader market.


Implications for the labour market

McKinsey estimates that up to 375 million workers may need to change their occupational category by 2030, and that up to 800 million individuals may be displaced by automation by the same year. Such a tsunami of redundancies is obviously a concern, from both a social and economic standpoint.

Yet while it is relatively simple to estimate the jobs that will be eradicated by technological progress, it is more difficult to predict the positions that will be created, as Industry 4.0 drives human intervention in the workplace away from manual, information-based tasks towards creative, socially engaging roles. The World Economic Forum reports that 25% of companies think automation will result in the emergence of new roles, and 85% believe it will open new productivity-enhancing jobs.

In addition, Rajeev Suri, President and CEO Nokia Corporation, recently stated his belief that “Technology serves us best when it gives us more time to do things that are uniquely human. This includes activities that are enjoyable, creative and productive”.

While these statements are reassuring, both leave an open question mark over what exactly these ‘creative and productive’ positions will be, and how businesses will be able to apply them to drive growth.


Revolutionary thinking

Resourcing talent for the Fourth Industrial Revolution requires some revolutionary thinking. Over the next decade, identifying the growth opportunities that emerging job roles will bring holds the key to gaining a competitive edge in a rapidly changing marketplace.

The first step for most businesses, however, will be investing in digital and technical skills to enable them to drive digitisation and bring competitive solutions to their customers. As the rate of progress accelerates, having the agility to adapt and deliver quickly will be crucial, especially when competing against disruptive, digitally-led companies.

However, with the exponential rate of progress anticipated, simply offering these new capabilities will soon cease to be a key differentiator. Businesses must identify a customer-focused niche in order to compete. Finding this niche – and delivering a market leading solution to dominate it – will require creative, social and emotive thinking: skillsets that are difficult to emulate with technology.


Resourcing for the ‘new normal’

This is where talent specialists can help businesses source flexible solutions that allow them to explore both aspects of this talent challenge. We provide a valuable external perspective, specialising in tracking current market demands and recognising emerging positions.

At RPI, we saw a similar shift through the Third Industrial Revolution. Even as little as 10 years ago, ‘data scientist’ was not a common requirement. Now that data is acknowledged as the “new oil”, demand has increased 6.5 times between 2012 and 2017 according to LinkedIn.

Exactly what jobs will become the ‘new normal’ as the Fourth Industrial Revolution gathers pace remains to be seen. What we do know is that it presents a dynamic era for change, one that will bring forth as yet unheard-of career opportunities, for individuals and businesses alike.