Are we playing with robots or against them?

Staying ahead in the 4th Industrial Revolution


CorporateWise, Kathryn Lehnerdt

In 2015 we wrote about the future of jobs in 2020, now let’s look at 2022.

We are now fully emerged in the 4th Industrial Revolution and, over the next 20 years, this is going to have a massive impact on our working lives.  What was once considered paradoxical is now a reality.

In 2018, the global unemployment level fell to 5.2%, the lowest in 38 years. And there is no denying the fact that a record number of robots (indicative of the age in which we live), would have had some impact on this. We’re moving in a high tech world! But, before you think I’m being a profit of doom, because of synchronicity there is also greater flexibility and accessibility. We just need to move with the current and not against it.

Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, predicted significant changes and states...

  • AI and robotics will ultimately create more work, not less.
  • There won’t be a shortage of jobs but – if we don’t take the right steps – a shortage of skilled talent to fill those jobs.
  • As remote work becomes the norm, cities will enter the talent wars of the future. Untethering work from place is going to give people new geographic freedom to live where they want, and cities and metropolitan regions will compete to attract this new mobile labour force.
  • The majority of the workforce will freelance by 2027
  • Technological change will keep increasing, so learning new skills will be an ongoing necessity throughout life.
  • The most constructive discussion is not whether there will or won’t be changes, but what we should do to ensure the best, most inclusive outcomes. image and text block

So, if you do fear that unemployment will steadily decline and the workforce will be replaced by robots, it needs to be recognised and accepted that the world IS going through significant and unprecedented change.  Machines, automation and AI are part of this reality.

In an article on State of the Planet, by Renee Cho, she states that some animals can adapt to climate change. "Animals can react to climate change in only three ways: they can move, adapt or die." It’s a dramatic analogy, but, much like the animals, we need to learn to adapt to our changing world of work.

But here's where it gets interesting...

According to the Future of Jobs Report (World Economic Forum), by 2022 the skills required to perform most jobs will have shifted dramatically.

Skills that will become increasingly important and necessary include: active learning, analytical thinking and technology design. And while technological competency will be critical, the good news is that human skills such as creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation will be increasingly important as necessary. The same goes for attention to detail, resilience, flexibility and complex problem-solving.

Emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence as well as service orientation will also see an increase in demand compared to 2018/19.

Growing - 2022

Declining - 2018

  • Analytical thinking and innovation
  • Active learning and learning strategies
  • Creativity, originality and initiative
  • Technology design and programming
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Complex problem solving
  • Leadership and social influence
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Reasoning, problem-solving and ideation
  • Systems analysis and evaluation
  • Manual dexterity, endurance and precision
  • Memory, verbal, auditory and special abilities
  • Management of financial and material resources
  • Technology installation and maintenance
  • Reading, writing, math and active listening
  • Management of personnel
  • Quality control and safety awareness
  • Co-ordination and time management
  • Visual, auditory and speech abilities
  • Technology use, monitoring and control

So what do we need to do?

We need to learn, grow and evolve with technology. We need to become lifelong learners

The Future of Jobs Report also states that, “on average, employees will need 101 days of retraining and upskilling in the period up to 2022.”

Employers will have a far greater requirement for their workplace to stay relevant and competitive. Four trends have been identified in the transformation of the workplace, these being: soft skills, work flexibility, anti-harassment and pay transparency. Of these four, soft skills is deemed to be the most important at 91% (The hard reality of soft skills: LinkedIN). In addition to this, 92% of the individuals surveyed believe soft skills are just as important (if not more important) than hard skills and 80% say soft skills are critical to company success.

I don’t like the term ‘soft skills’. I believe they are essential skills. They include a complex combination of capabilities such as: empathy, emotional intelligence, creativity, being able to collaborate and communicate, to name but a few. These are essential for success. text and image block

How do we keep pace or stay ahead?

The reality is, these skills are often not identified in the recruitment process. Their evidence (or lack thereof), mostly becomes apparent when an individual is on the job. Employers need to, therefore, become more skilled in the interviewing process, even using tools or assessments to assess those skills.

The pace of technological change means that people need to learn new skills and evolve as quickly as the machines they operate. We need to adapt to change at a far quicker pace.

We also need to embrace the culture of lifelong learning. Striving, on a daily basis, to keep abreast and to stay on top. We need to learn, we need to grow, we need to evolve. That’s how we will survive and succeed in the 4th Industrial Revolution. By playing with robots, not against them.

CorporateWise is a training company and HR consultancy, which offers both the assessments tools and necessary essential skills training to ensure that people do just that. Contact: