Upskilling for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The world has never moved faster. The frenetic pace of changes driven by technology and digitization has taken the business landscape by storm, and there is hardly any industry that isn’t impacted by tech disruption. We are living in what is touted as the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0. And, businesses will need to adapt now to compete and grow.  

What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

In the words of Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Industry 4.0 is “a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” Specifically, large-scale digitization, cloud computing, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning are at the forefront of this transformation. 

While this new phase is driven by hyperconnectivity, automation, and real-time data, it’s not just about investing in new technology and tools to improve business efficiency. It’s about revolutionizing every aspect of a business, its operation, and its growth. As such, the benefits of introducing Industry 4.0 technologies.

Today, the exploding data volumes and the need to tease real-time insights out of them go hand in hand. Nearly every organization today is faced with the challenge to do more with their data. Industry 4.0 is not only allowing businesses to unlock the most value from their data but also helping them become more agile, flexible, and responsive to customers by leveraging digital technologies. A survey revealed that nearly 60 percent of entrepreneurs who have adopted Industry 4.0 technologies say it has boosted their productivity and capacity to predict and prevent downtime. 

The Opportunity and the Problem

The wave of disruption brought about by the 4th Industrial Revolution is creating new business models and introducing dramatic changes in the existing ones. And while this new era of technology spurs opportunities like never before, the question is, are businesses ready to harness those opportunities? According to an article by WEF, “the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change the world – but only 14 percent of execs are ready for it.”

The authors argue that “Only one-third of the executives surveyed are highly confident they can act as stewards of their organizations during this time of change. And only 14 percent are highly confident their organizations are ready to fully harness the changes associated with Industry 4.0.”

Here’s why. Functioning in this new future of smart, integrated, and data-driven work process demands a whole new skill set within the workforce. In other words, they need new digital talent to thrive and survive in this brave new world. 

The biggest challenge? Skills shortage. Rapidly advancing technology is making dramatic changes to the workplace, promising to transform the very nature of work. Yet, businesses are scrambling to find people with the right skillset. Deloitte Global’s readiness report found that more than 50 percent of CXOs acknowledge a significant disparity between current skill sets and future needs. 

The skill gap isn’t just preventing businesses from fully embracing the change but is also incurring a huge cost. Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute predict the US manufacturing industry to have as many as 2.4 million jobs to fill by 2028. However, the sector is set to lose $454 billion in GDP by 2028 due to the lack of qualified talent in manufacturing.

The 4th Industrial Revolution has seen a rapid rise in automation, which is currently one of the hottest topics in the business world. And, that’s perhaps partly due to the negative publicity it has garnered around job losses. While people fear robots will cannibalize their jobs, experts believe that fear is blown out of proportions.   

In fact, Industry 4.0 is creating more jobs than it is eliminating. WEF predicted that machines and algorithms in the workplace could displace 75 million jobs globally by 2022 but is likely to create 133 million new roles. 

The question is, what can your organization do to close the skill gap? Hiring is imperative, but it’s also expensive. Plus, simply hiring will hardly fulfill the skills your business needs to succeed. This is where upskilling comes in. 

Upskilling Is the Way Forward

A more realistic way for companies to reinforce their talent pool is to practice a combination of hiring and training. WEF echoes this idea in its prediction that by 2022, to realize the benefits of these changes, at least 54 percent of all employees will require upskilling and reskilling. 35 percent of these are likely to require additional training of up to six months, about 10 percent will require reskilling lasting six to 12 months, while 10 percent will require additional skills training of more than a year.

Forward-thinking companies are changing the way they handle workforce enhancement. Besides helping them become agile and ‘future-proof,’ it positions them as an employer of choice for skilled talent, helping them attract and retain top skillset and ultimately thrive in the new landscape. 

Creating an upskilling environment within your organization will involve time and investment. While your goal should be to profitably upskill, you need first to evaluate which skills your organization needs and then cultivate them.   

Fortify the Right Skills

In this data-driven era, being fluent in the “language of data” gives a company a significant edge on its competitors. Therefore, it’s supremely important to understand the role of new technologies and develop skillsets around them. Some of the most relevant technologies in this context are data science, big data analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing, among others.

Now comes the question of how to go about upskilling in your organization. This can be done in many ways. To build skills that will take your company successfully into the 4th Industrial Revolution, it’s vital to determine the training methods that would work best for you and your team. It may include online skills training, in-person team training, and certification.

When it comes to upskilling your technical team, the cost can be a significant determinant. And this is where online or virtual learning methods trump in-person or on-site training. Most of the reputed e-learning platforms like Simplilearn utilize modern learning technologies, instructor-led training, live interactions, and other sophisticated features that make virtual training just as effective as in-person training. 

Plus, the ease of access to online skills training gives everyone a fair and equal opportunity to boost their career prospects. Also, the fact that most online courses allow an individual to learn at their own pace is a big thumbs up for a busy professional. 

Certifications, too, are a great way to equip your employees with necessary skills, especially in the field of tech. And, when your organization pays for employees to earn certifications from world-leading certification providers like Simplilearn, you can rest assured that they are earning the skills required to give your company what it needs to succeed while advancing their career.  

If anything, the business world is only getting faster and more competitive. An organization will rely on its people to survive and succeed. Therefore, upskilling your employees is not an option, but a necessity to have access to the skills your company needs to stay ahead. 

About the Author

Krishna KumarKrishna Kumar

Krishna Kumar founded Simplilearn.com in 2010. In the following years, he has built the company into one of the largest players in delivering certification training for working professionals. A thought leader in the edu-tech sector, Krishna believes in balancing technology with human interaction to deliver a world-class learning experience.

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