One of the major concerns of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is that artificial intelligence and automation – robots – will eliminate jobs, both blue-collar and white-collar roles across a variety of sectors.
While C-3PO and WALL-E might be good at processing algorithms, they can never replace living, breathing, thinking humans entirely in the workplace. From the auto factory producing a fine-tuned machine where safety and functionality are of utmost importance, to the commodities trading floor where high-value transactions must take into account complex, rapidly changing geopolitical movements, businesses of all kinds still require human intelligence.
And these humans must have bespoke skills and sharp problem-solving and decision-making abilities to fulfill these jobs – jobs that will remain lucrative and dependable, regardless of what robots come along.
The real challenge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, then, isn’t the robots – it’s that we aren’t properly training humans for the available jobs.
As the World Economic Forum has noted, while the outlook for jobs is positive, on average, 42% of skills requirements are expected to change by 2022 alone. Reskilling is one of the major necessities and challenges of our era.
Many of these skills can’t be learned in the university lecture hall. The skills required for the skilled job at the auto factory aren’t taught in the traditional university – and you can throw an intelligent, highly educated graduate with a business or math degree on a commodities trading floor, and there’s no guarantee they’ll succeed.
But if you put the intelligent, intuitive individual on the factory floor or trading floor to learn the complex supply chain and shadow the most skilled in the business, then you not only give them a well-paying job with growth potential, but you also give them the bespoke skillset to flourish in the role and the industry.
This model isn’t new. It’s apprenticeship – which Swiss companies have been engaging in for a long time. Right now, it’s something global companies would be wise to consider, too.