Often referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, the current rapid growth in technologies and approaches such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, smart cities and the internet of things (IoT), are changing the way we live, work and play. With predictions that millions of jobs could be lost to robots or AI; and with governments around the world exploring how to digitise their cities; how can we help people adjust to these changes now, so they are not left behind?
Upskilling the workforce and preparing future generations
Despite the predictions of millions of job losses, it does not have to be all doom and gloom. While, there will undoubtedly be jobs lost, there will also be new ones created. The European Commission estimates that by 2020, there will be a shortage of around 800,000 ICT specialists in the EU and digital skills will be in demand across all sectors. To meet these needs we must start reskilling and upskilling our existing workforce so that they can also fill these new vacancies. The German automation expert Festo has developed its own training programmes to reskill its worldwide labour force in IoT applications, while American telecoms giant AT&T is working to reskill 80,000 of its employees, with thousands acquiring “nanodegrees” on various technology-related topics due to its partnership with Udacity.
What about our future employees?
At the World Smart City Congress held in Barcelona in November 2016, it was stated that the majority of today’s primary aged children will be employed in a job that does not currently exist. This means, we will need to adapt curriculums to cover topics like robotics, coding and digital technologies e.g. 3D printing, apps, VR and AI to ensure that children leave school with the right skill set. In 2014, the UK government changed its curriculum to teach children how to code and create their own programs, but with rapid advances in this area, support will also be needed to enable educators to continually embrace new subjects and technological/digital developments, to ensure pupils have the knowledge necessary to meet market needs.