on July 16th, 2019

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard plenty about the fourth industrial revolution  (i4.0) and how technology has the potential to create jobs we previously never dreamed about.

Some commentators have taken a pessimistic view on its potential impact on jobs, with the Australian governments’ productivity commission  estimating 40% of jobs could be digitally disrupted in the next 10-15 years.

Interestingly, the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute  estimates the level of disruption to be much lower at 5-10%.

However, a joint report  from JP Morgan and the Institute for Public Policy Research discusses how such figures only take into consideration disruption to current jobs and not the creation of new jobs.

Report contributor Diane Coyle from the University of Manchester suggests, “Technological progress accounts for the vast majority of long-term economic growth, [so] we should welcome automation.

“Investment in new capital will enhance labor productivity and ultimately improve living standards.

“As citizens of aging countries with slow population growth and a lackluster productivity record, Europeans should be embracing the robots: we will need them to pay our pensions and perhaps even to care for us.”

Taking this a step further, the Future of Jobs Survey 2018  from the World Economic Forum (WEF) indicates that automation could lead to a net gain of 50 million jobs globally. They estimate that while 75 million jobs may be displaced by advances in technology, another 133 million new roles could be created.

It is important to note what these jobs are likely to be.

The WEF’s report goes on to list jobs that are likely to remain stable, and the fields in which more jobs are expected to be created in by 2022.

Job roles that should experience growth are; process automation specialists, innovation professionals, big data specialists, AI and Machine Learning specialists, robotic specialists and engineers, digital transformation specialists, big data analysts, e-commerce, marketing and social media specialists, and IT specialists.

The WEF predicts the top skills required by 2022 will include analytical thinking, innovation, problem-solving, creativity, technology design and programming, critical thinking, leadership, systems analysis, and emotional intelligence.

This means developing both hard (technical) skills and soft skills is imperative for future-proofing yourself to keep up with the changing workforce.

On the other hand, it is expected that skills such as manual dexterity, financial management, reading, writing and mathematics, personnel management, time management, and quality control, will become increasingly redundant as technology begins to automate these processes.

In response, the WEF suggests it is important that engineers start focusing on upskilling in areas that will be at the forefront of the future workforce; “Workers with in-demand skills ready for augmentation may see their wages and job quality increase considerably.

“Conversely, even if automation only affects a subset of the tasks within their job role, workers lacking appropriate skills to adapt to new technologies and move on to higher value tasks may see their wages and job quality suppressed by technology steadily eroding the value of their job, as it encroaches on the tasks required to perform it.”

Researchers from Edith Cowan University and Flinders University have collaborated on an article in The Conversation, where they discuss the jobs of the future. The article suggests the vocational education and training (VET) sector needs to increase its collaboration between industry, educators, and governments to ensure students graduate with relevant skills.

More interestingly, they write that educational institutes need, “responsiveness and flexibility in delivering skills, from formal qualifications to micro-credentials or non-formal education to reflect the needs of rapidly changing technologies.”

The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) has been at the forefront of engaging industry to create technologically relevant qualifications and professional development courses that ensure students graduate with the skills required to succeed in the workforce.

EIT’s Dean of Engineering Steve Mackay emphatically believes that automation will preserve the engineer, as long as he or she takes part in meaningful professional development.

“The most important message is that you should commit to continuous professional development,” he said.

“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 particular engineering skills - in fact - every town has its own particular demands.”

You can learn more about EIT’s professional development courses and our school of industrial automation on our website. Our interactive, online delivery mode means you can gain new skills and knowledge from anywhere in the world while working full-time.

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