What used to be only a concept depicted in sci-fi flicks no more than 40 years ago has become a reality. Self-driving cars, intelligent machines, remotely-controlled houses, or neuroenhancements of the brain that were completely beyond our comprehension will soon be commonplace.
The Third Industrial Revolution that started in the 1950s brought us digitization as well as advancements in computing and communication technologies. While the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 might seem like the next phase of the Digital Revolution, it’s actually a major shift in the way we live, work, and connect with each other and the objects around us.
However, although this new revolution is all about high computational sciences, it will heavily affect field technicians, meaning that they will have to level up their competencies and acquire new skills.
In order to keep pace with the latest trends and gain a competitive edge, businesses should train their employees for this seismic change.
A New Set of Skills Will Be a Must
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a phrase coined by Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
According to him, Industry 4.0 will blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological world, thus disrupting every aspect of human life.
For example, artificial intelligence, 5G, and Internet of Things make it possible to perform remote surgery.
Similarly, intelligent machines will take over certain tasks and possibly leave many professionals without a job.
That’s the reason why the World Economic Forum listed the top 5 skills that employees should polish if they want to stay competitive:
- Complex problem solving
- Critical thinking
- A creative approach
- Leadership skills
- Soft skills.
The thing is that the process of automation and using robots for simple, repetitive, and tedious tasks will leave certain gaps in the workload. That’s where soft skills, such as the communication and analytical ones, will be required to fill these gaps.
In a nutshell, the Fourth Industrial Revolution isn’t about robots stealing jobs from humans, but about them working together, side by side. Employees need to adapt to these new requirements and learn how to overcome the challenges of changing careers.
Tech Jobs Will Be More Demanding
It’s true that intelligent machines will be there to pick up the slack and take on the workload that’s too dirty or unsafe for human workers. Routine tasks have been automated too.
Collaborative robots, or co-bots, are more robust counterparts of office chatbots, and they have revolutionized the manufacturing industry. Businesses have managed to transform their production lines, improve quality control, accelerate the supply chain, facilitate storage management, and generally speaking cut costs.
For example, Amazon reduced its operational expenses by 20% after it implemented Kiva co-bots.
Employees who operate these co-bots need to be well-trained and highly-skilled in order to program them properly, fix bugs, and optimize these machines so that they can reach their full potential. It’s clear that tech jobs will become more complex and challenging.
Besides, technicians will have to be prepared to deal with unpredictable and unstructured situations which occur due to the technological speeding up as well as mass-customization.
Having said that, it’s important to emphasize that it’s expected that even more sophisticated automation tools and intelligent robots will soon start tackling some non-routine and more complex tasks. The fact that there’s a lot of competition among robotics suppliers means that the prices of such advanced systems will drop and that an increasing number of businesses will start leveraging these solutions.
As a result, technicians will have to switch from manual labor to programming, analyzing and interpreting massive amounts of system data, handling errors, and production process optimization.
Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Play a More Important Role
As technologies and machines become more complex, technicians will find it more challenging to learn how to use them.
Augmented and virtual reality technologies paired with cloud computing, will transform the way workers who operate these intricate machines are being trained and educated to use them properly.
With the help of augmented reality instructions, companies that manufacture machines will provide more effective training, allowing businesses not only to maintain these machines but also to build them.
Similarly, virtual reality can be used for creating detailed, step-by-step training that will help technicians use, program, and troubleshoot these complex machines.
Warehouses can greatly benefit from taking advantage of reach truck simulators powered by virtual reality. That way, future operators can practice without causing any damage to the lift trucks and other equipment. Virtual reality allows technicians to learn new skills as well as polish their existing skills in a safe and controlled environment.
Organizations Need to Come Up With Upskilling Strategies
Businesses that want to grow and thrive, need to have viable upskilling strategies in place.
There are two fields that they need to focus on – tech skills and human skills.
In other words, besides helping their employees develop their hard skills, companies should also encourage them to work on their soft skills.
When it comes to tech skills training, such as data analytics or artificial intelligence solutions, hiring external help is a good idea. This is pretty straightforward, and it’s not too complicated to find experts in the field who will work with employees and show them the ropes.
As for soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, empathy, or leadership, this requires a somewhat different approach. Everyone possesses these skills to a certain extent, which is why it’s crucial to make training:
- contextual, so that employees are able to apply these skills in different contexts;
- concise, meaning that the best way to memorize and learn new things is through microlearning, such as short videos, animations, and podcasts;
- and, most importantly, customized, thus adjusting learning to every individual learner’s reality and roles.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is already happening, and early adopters of the latest technologies and concepts will be those who will dominate the new business landscape. Training workers for this new industrial reality will make all the difference, which is why it should be approached with the utmost care.
Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.