The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), Covid-19, the Great Resignation, and the Great Relearning
With the Fourth Industrial Revolution going on, there’s a growing need for a new attitude of continual understanding and education.
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have reinforced this scenario in the world of work, many collaborators from companies worldwide have left their jobs, very often in crucial sectors. The phenomenon was so widespread that it was called the Great Resignation. But this has already been talked about in abundance.
In this analysis, we want to focus on another phenomenon: the enormous increase in the workforce that has decided to invest time and resources to learn new skills. A trend especially true regarding the new exponential technologies at the basis of the technological and digital revolution that is changing the paradigms of production and work.
Such trend now has a name: the Great Relearning Revolution.
Why is all this important for HR to evaluate?
A Gallup-Amazon report indicated that over half of US workers would be open to changing professions if provided training, and 65% believed upskilling would be helpful when evaluating a job change.
The e-learning industry, which is continually increasing, is expected to reach a 1 trillion-dollar mark by 2027. According to providers like Coursera and Udemy, data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are preferred coursework. For the anxious to find that talent, this comes as great news.
But let’s now start from the beginning.
The Origins of Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is an idea that MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Technology Review coined to describe technology-driven business models changing the fundamental nature of modern industries.
Clayton Christensen first popularized the term in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma (1984), where he proposes that as an industry is disrupted by technological change on a global scale, we must transform businesses from being driven by profit and efficiency to purpose and innovation.
Other two books are worth a mention:
- The Internet Of Things: The Impact On Your Business And Our World by Alex Pentland
- Digital Mindset: How The New Rules For Success Are Changing Everything by Les Brown
Both authors bring up a tremendous amount of helpful information that should help anyone who wants to learn more about the 4IR revolution and how to best prepare for it.
New Technologies, New Mindset, New Skills
Industry 4.0, thanks to the new disruptive technologies, is revolutionizing how we interact with physical and digital objects. The IoT is expected to be the most crucial technology of the coming years and companies are investing in it at an unprecedented rate.
Companies like Intel, Samsung, Nvidia, and others are building a new generation of computers that run AI algorithms helping companies predict what their customers want before they even ask for it.
4IR demands a new mindset for businesses (including startups), instead of focusing on proprietary products or services that work only for a small group of people, companies have to create resources that everyone in the different ecosystems can use.
This requires a new mindset as well and it can only come from a workforce with the skills to use the latest technologies.
The need for a new paradigm in learning
In this highly fluid and stimulating situation, many elements can be identified that can contribute to this great revolution taking place in the field of learning:
- access to information, even specialistic and academic one is easier and almost costless;
- thanks to smart and hybrid work, geographical, political, and economic barriers are not as strong as before;
- opportunities are not limited anymore to people starting from a position of advantage in rich countries.
As in all things, there is also the other side of the coin that must be considered.
In this scenario of great democratization of information and opportunities, the risk is to see excluded precisely that workforce of Western economies. These people, cut off from traditional occupations, risk being overtaken even by a younger generation of replacement coming from areas of the world where they were previously banned for socio-cultural and economic reasons. Not long ago, there were only about 500 million internet users globally; now, more than 7 billion people use the internet each month!
This is a more democratic “environment,” but it also presents a risk to the traditional workforce. For this reason, the USA, the EU, and in general, the western economies are concentrating on programs centred on ideas such as upskilling and reskilling.
What is needed for the success of the Great Relearning Revolution?
The Great Relearning Revolution must also concern the managerial spheres to achieve its complete success. There’s the necessity of leadership to take these people to where their knowledge will help us achieve our highest potential.
First and foremost, there’s the necessity of leaders with a solid entrepreneurial background who can teach others how to build successful businesses.
Secondly, they need to be ready to guide companies through the necessary changes that will enable them to grow innovations that create jobs and deliver economic growth.
In third place, this evolved leadership must guide society using new technologies to connect us as individuals and build a better future for our planet.
Lastly, we need leaders who will change the way companies think:
- ways that focus on customer experience rather than internal politics;
- ways that look outside of their own companies instead of looking inwards;
- ways that consider not only what happens inside their own company but also what happens outside – over time – within other companies worldwide.
This is especially important today because much of what happens in other industries are entirely invisible to most people.
How can HR deal with this instead? A recent article contributed by the World Economic Forum suggests rethinking human resources strategies based on these axes:
Retention: a shift from compensation reward to learning reward
The perceived value of professional training and development has risen by approximately twofold since 2016. Rewarding and vigorously encouraging this procedure could be a new lever for redefining the organizational perspective of talent retention.
Hiring: a shift from qualification focused to skill-based
Traditionally, hiring has been anchored in conventional educational qualifications. Increasingly, we are witnessing the stirrings of a promising new trend as a transformation takes place from being an employers’ market to a workers’ market: skills-based hiring.
Focus: a shift from people-enabled to people-enabling
We know that an organization’s success is determined by the people who work for it. It’s time to reverse the perspective: understanding instead that organizational success results from the fact that we enable people to achieve what they want. Organizations that offer reskilling opportunities and separate budgets for self-directed learning will accrue momentum as society responds to the demand for lifelong learning.
Current technological developments are the result of advances in information literacy:
- artificial intelligence (AI)
- big data analytics (BD)
- software/technology engineering (S2E)
- robotics/machines learning/automation (RLM).
These developments will drive exponential growth into virtually every industry in society. They will put devices at humanity’s disposal:
- giving people unprecedented control over their destinies;
- enabling them to learn faster;
- rendering obsolete traditional work methods such as driving cars, manufacturing goods, or creating;
- improving all aspects of life through machine learning;
- solving problems more quickly than humans can handle them;
- making use of vast amounts of data stored within objects or information systems without needing human involvement;
- changing everything from how we travel around our world to self-driving cars.
All this is happening rapidly. Even if some sectors may not experience any significant changes for quite some time, it will impact many other industries very soon.
Yet, there’s a scarce talent for IoT, artificial intelligence, and other new technologies. Industry 4.0 needs an equally powerful revolution to build a strong foundation and fuel its growth: the Great Relearning Revolution.
With a workforce willing and eager to learn, HR needs to lead this new mindset and epochal change.