Industrial revolutions were once centred around steam power and workforce migration to the city, then the introduction of the internet and rapid globalisation to today’s influence of AI and Automation.
But are we truly ready for this fourth industrial revolution?
Cycles which once took over 100 years to decades, is now happening in a matter of years, increasingly causing new demands, including employability challenges.
We are already seeing how it has accelerated the rise and, in some cases, fall of specific skill sets.
And with this, we need to evaluate our skill inventory and focus on adapting individuals to meet new industry expectations.
How will existing roles evolve? Who finds themselves in an at-risk job? Could their responsibilities transition, and would they be prepared for it? How can we use said technology to repurpose?
This involves changing our view towards skillsets yet again, investing in training and career development opportunities so staff can stay ahead of this technical curve.
So, what changes are coming our way?
The structure of education is always shifting, but for years now we have followed a linear path. Gradually as we move throughout the education system, our skills become refined and our objective provided. But with a faster skills cycle, the demand for new skill sets is accelerating, and our linear structure may no longer be suitable, especially those who find themselves already working towards a purpose that is no longer in demand.
As we approach change, we will focus less on skill sets being directed at specific job roles and rather focus on improving our adaptability. With this, we will find ourselves identifying our transferable skills and focusing more on which can be used across multiple roles, so we can adapt when it is necessary to do so.
Yes, a level of responsibility to the adaptation may lie with employees, but on this level, employers will have the bigger burden. To stay competitive, businesses will need to ensure they have sufficient skills in-house to continue to meet demands. But hiring new talent to meet these needs will be inefficient and costly. Companies will instead have to look at investing in retraining staff to move into those new areas.
We need to focus less on the replacement of staff. We can avoid the cost and unpleasantness of redundancies by effectively identifying where to invest and reskill by looking at our inventory of skills. What skills will be most valuable? What individual assets do employees have? What skills can transfer across multiple roles? We need to work to adapt our current roles to make them more efficient and relevant.
We often find ourselves naturally resistant to change, particularly during periods of uncertainty. But if you sit back for too long, you will be left behind. You must focus that change on adaptation. Look at ways to move forward in the form of reskilling to protect the future of your workforce.