How are you future-proofing yourself for the 4th industrial revolution?

Updated: Sep 26, 2019



I have been reading some futuristic novels recently and really struggled with them as the future being described in these books, seemed so much closer than I was comfortable acknowledging.

In a brief discussion with the author of one of these novels, JT Lawrence, the concept of Moore's Law was brought to my attention.

What is Moore's Law you ask?

Well it's essentially an observation that technological advances are taking place at an exponential rate - in fact, doubling every two years or so.

When you consider the technology that is common place today, that wasn't in existence just 10 or 20 years ago, it becomes easy to imagine that the technology of tomorrow is coming at us at warp speed (think nano-technology, cloning, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, social media algorithms, laboratory printed meat and the list goes on).

This led me to consider what all this rapidly developing technology means for us in terms of our jobs and the work we do and what this means for remaining competent and employable in the face of change.

Well I am not alone in that line of questioning - the World Economic Forum published an extensive study in 2016 on the future of jobs. You can read the entire report here. Basically the report concludes the following:

  • We have entered the 4th Industrial Revolution - this builds on the 3rd industrial revolution (electronics, IT and automation) and is characterized by the fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

  • The speed at which this revolution is evolving is unprecedented and is disrupting almost every industry in every country - with implications for how work is done now and in the future.

  • Drivers of change are many and varied - at the top of the list are changing work environments and flexible working arrangements and mobile internet and cloud technology, data processing technology. These drivers fundamentally change who (or what) can do the work, and from where.

  • New jobs that didn't exist 10 years ago are emerging, while other traditional jobs are becoming redundant.

  • Jobs and functions that can be replaced by automation and robotics, in all likelihood will be - let's be honest, they are being replaced right now.

  • The greatest losses in jobs are probably going to be in 'office and administration', 'manufacturing and production' and 'construction and extraction', while the greatest opportunities for growth of jobs, are in 'business and financial operations', 'management', and 'computers and mathematical' areas of work.

The report goes on to say that the top 10 skills that will be required to remain competitive and employable are:

  1. complex problem solving

  2. critical thinking

  3. creativity

  4. people management

  5. coordinating with others

  6. emotional intelligence

  7. judgement and decision making

  8. service orientation

  9. negotiation

  10. cognitive flexibility

Bernard Marr, in his article The Future Of Jobs: 5 Options Everyone Must Consider accurately suggests that in the face of as he calls it the "Robotic Apocalypse" - we have five options:

  1. step aside (let the robots take over automated tasks while we focus on work requiring creativity and empathy),

  2. step narrowly (develop a speciality where there is no automation involved),

  3. step up (take on responsibility for management and oversight of AI and computers),

  4. step in (to troubleshoot where algorithms lack humanity), or

  5. step forward (in identifying the problems that we need AI to solve for us).

So what does this mean for you and me?

We can either embrace change or we can run from it. I don't think running from this kind of change is going to help... so here are some things to ponder and perhaps take some action on:

  • How are you creating space for yourself to think, to be creative, to be cognitively agile?

  • How many of the above 10 skills do you have and which of them are you using and making known to others?

  • Companies definitely need to be proactively contributing to the re-skilling of employees - but so too do we as individuals. Are you waiting to be re-skilled or are you taking the lead in your own learning and development strategy?

  • If the inevitable is that robotics, AI, computers, technology are the way of the future (let's be honest they are the way of the present), what are you doing to make sure you are as tech savvy as possible?

  • What steps are you going to take to remain relevant and employable?

  • What are you doing to distinguish yourself and your skills and competence from the functions that can be automated?

  • What are you doing to future-proof yourself?

I love conversations and would love to engage with you on your career and how you are managing yourself and your career like a business.

I believe "managing your career like a business" means having insight on where you want to go in your career, the agility and resilience to change track when necessary, competence to navigate transition points, and self-awareness to manage yourself.

I help you do that through one-on-one coaching, CV and LinkedIn profile writing, topic-specific workshops and a suite of blogs and other materials available on my website. Want more information? Drop me a message and I will get back to you asap.

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