Industry 4.0 Transforming Learning


“Across nearly all industries, the impact of technological and other changes is shortening the shelf-life of employees’ existing skill sets”

What is the technology shift that is driving the fourth Industrial revolution; Industry 4.0. and how will it impact on the workforce and the skills needed for the future?

With the benefit of historical hindsight, it is clearly evident that the three previous industrial revolutions disrupted traditional jobs, changed the way people worked and transformed our society. These changes in jobs and skill sets didn’t happen overnight or even within decades, they were more gradual in their impact on the real world. They had 200 years to get used to the changes in their workplaces.

In many instances during previous revolutions, the pace of change was deliberately slowed down. This meant there was ample time to adapt to new processes and new types of work. Industry 4.0 is happening incredibly quickly. This time we are experiencing a two-speed digital revolution over a period of around 20 years.  Technology gains far outstrip our capability to meet the immediate and near term demands of industry.

A quote from economist and Education Evolution Founder, Lauren Paer, highlights the disconnect and imbalance that this two speed revolution is bringing; "This time around we have the digital revolution, but we haven't had a parallel revolution in our education system," There's a big rift between the modern economy and our education system. Students are being prepared for jobs in the wrong century. Adaptability will probably be the most valuable skill we can learn. We need to promote awareness of a landscape that is going to change quickly."

The impacts and implications of this revolution are much broader than just new technology changing our workplaces. New work-life challenges and social dilemmas are being created with this technology shift.

On a national scale what we are facing is both a social and a political problem, not just a rapidly accelerating technological one. The revolution could yield greater social and economic inequality, particularly in its potential to further disrupt labour markets. Not anticipating and addressing the extent of such issues in a timely manner over the next few years may come at an enormous economic and social cost for businesses, individuals, economies and societies as a whole.

The reliance on traditional education processes and old habits will not provide the coming generations with the skills they need to work in the emerging economy.

Industry 4.0 is driving a revolution in how education and training is designed and delivered as well as the way we think. Digitisation is creating a revolution in our minds, pushing us to make fundamental changes in our ways of thinking and acting about our how we build our skills and train for future jobs. Computing power is marching relentlessly towards mirroring human capabilities, challenging our assumptions about knowledge, skills and work.

The rapid transformation of the labour market brought about by Industry 4.0 in terms of skills demand is forcing changes to our traditional learning strategies. Skill sets and micro-credentials are emerging as an important part of this shift. Skills also need to be updated more frequently to move with rapid changes. Our future workforce and especially young people will need even greater skills to find their way into the future.

Traditional VET training models currently do not provide the options or the products that industry needs to stay ahead in a fiercely competitive digitised world.

Training for work
So, are our National Training Packages and their products fit for purpose?

The paradox of meeting compliance and Training Package competency requirements, overlaid with the accelerating pace of change, could mean that current vocational training participants end up with skills that are no longer needed by employers.

In the future, might National Training packages be constructed from stackable skill sets that are delivered through shorter programs? Bolting on skills to a foundation platform of knowledge and understanding.

Given this scenario, the challenges facing our vocational training system and training providers in delivering appropriate training responses within the timeframe of a student’s training program are only going to increase.

Current ABS research shows in October 2018 there were over 12 and a half million employees in Australia. By 2025 over half of these employees will no longer be able to rely on technical skills to access employment in occupations that may no longer exist.

By 2025

  • 15% (1.9m) of our current workforce will lose their jobs as machines replace human tasks
  • 16% (2.0m) of us will need major reskilling to stay in their current job
  • 20% (2.4m) of us will move to a new job that doesn’t exist today

We don’t have the luxury of time to slowly shift the mindsets from yesterday’s thinking to act on the opportunities and challenges facing us.

Future jobs
Jobs of the future will require the development of a balance between humans and machines.  This will change what we do, how we do it and who we are. The impact on business models will be felt in transformations to the employment landscape and skills requirements, resulting in substantial challenges for recruiting, for training and for managing, growing and retaining talent.

Individuals, business owners, policy-makers and other key training system stakeholders must engage on these issues and discuss the types of capabilities and skills workers will need for future jobs and agree on the models to deliver these.

There are multiple efforts underway to develop responses to Industry 4.0. Researchers have identified the types of tasks that may be automated and the shift in job roles that this transformation will bring. Their insights and predictions are based on data from those occupations that will be most affected under this transformation.

We need to identify those skills that will future proof jobs for people and create opportunities that will enable people to grow these skills.

Future jobs will more likely have an emphasis on innate human traits such as empathy, creativity, collaboration and originality.  This is our point of difference to artificial intelligence, automation, and digitisation.

The benefits of these new technologies will come from not just adopting them but from us adapting to it.

Contact us to let us know what skills or skills sets you will need to future proof your workplace.