Skills mismatch in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
A recent paper on “The Future of Jobs” by the World Economic Forum (WEF) disclosed the perils of jobs-skills mismatch when the Fourth industrial Revolution (FIRe) finally becomes a full-time reality.
The Second Industrial Revolution began in 1870 when industry started to exploit natural and synthetic materials like lighter metals, alloys and plastics, and searched for new energy sources. The assembly line gave way to the “automatic factory” that benefited from new inventions in machinery, tools and early computers. The oligarchical ownership of the means of production gave way to wider ownership through common stocks.
In 2011, Jeremy Rifkin published his book on the Third Industrial Revolution that began in 1969, which he premised on the convergence of new communication technologies with new energy regimes. The “sharing economy” is also a crucial element of this stage. This revolution started to use nuclear energy, transistor, microprocessor, computers, automatons and robots or programmable logic controllers.
The dreaded FIRe is slowly but surely unfolding before our eyes, starting with the emergence of the internet at the dawning of the third millennium. What’s so different about the FIRe?
The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam to mechanize production. The second used electricity to create mass production, and the third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Today, the fourth industrial revolution will build upon the digital revolution that has been taking place since the mid-1900s. This digitalization will enable us to build a new virtual world from which we can steer the physical world. This is characterized by “merging technology that blurs the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres to completely uproot industries all over the world.” Mind-boggling?
With Cloud, Big Data Analytics and the Industrial Internet of Things, players can communicate and connect in a massive global production line with utmost efficiency, characterized by predictive maintenance, improved real-time decision-making, anticipating production-based inventory and improved coordination among jobs. Some jobs will be performed by humans, while others by robots. Don’t discount the possibility of robots supervising humans on day-to-day operations.
Obviously, this radically new environment will require new skills to operate new tools and equipment, new knowledge to analyze and predict situations, and a new set of leadership, management and governance competencies.
Are we ready?
For example, robotics and machine learning, instead of completely replacing existing jobs and occupations, will likely substitute specific tasks that used to be part of these jobs. This could free up the workers to focus on new or emerging tasks.
WEF continues, “Even those jobs that are less directly affected by technological change and have a largely stable employment outlook — say, marketing or supply chain professionals targeting a new demographic in an emerging market — may require very different skill sets just a few years from now as the ecosystems within which they operate also change.”
I asked Dominique Rubia-Tutay, Bureau of Local Employment director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), about the Philippine government’s programs to cope with challenges of FIRe. She said, “The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution may further deepen the skills mismatch in the Philippines.”
Citing Oxford Economics and Cisco’s Technology and the future of jobs in southeast Asia, Director Tutay said due to the changing landscape of the labor market, Filipino workers must “familiarize themselves with new devices and software applications and to fundamentally change the nature of their job. This is on top of the need for softer skills.”
“FIRe strengthens the need for a more holistic development of skills, starting from higher education and/or training towards gainful employment. The government has adopted priority strategies to address this concern, as espoused in Chapter 10 (Human Capital Development) of the Philippine Development Plan,” shared Director Tutay.
She also assured us that there are DoLE initiatives to help capacitate the Filipino workforce and prepare them for FIRe. One is the publication of the JobsFit 2022 Labor Market Information (LMI) Report, which provides LMI on industries that will create jobs and the skills needed for the future. It is aimed at helping students and jobseekers make informed education, training and career choices. It also serves as an aid to policy decision-making for both the public and private sector. Another DoLE program is the Philippine Talent Map Initiative, which examines the current trends and issues that both academe and industry face in terms of workforce development.
This challenge is too big for government alone to handle. Unless all social partners move together to prepare the future Filipino workforce, the jobs-skills mismatch will worsen. But first, there must be a realization by the social partners that a myopic view of the current labor issues — employment, wages, technical training, tenure security, etc. — must give way to a more pressing issue that will confront the country when everybody is looking too inwardly. Like it or not, the FIRe is here and now.
Ernie is the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines’s Human Capital Committee, co-chairman of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines’s Technical Working Group on Labor Policy and Social Issues, and past president of the People Management Association of the Philippines. He can be reached at [email protected]
- America may miss out on the next industrial revolution
- Spirited times: From disinfectant to the industrial revolution, gin has a colourful history
- Employable skills: How to bridge disconnect between industries, varsities — Kathy Daniels
- Power Finance Corporation join hands for Skill Development Training of 500 unemployed youth
- British fintech Revolut hits $5.5 billion valuation after funding round
- German economy 'flirts with recession' as fourth-quarter output stagnates
- UPDATE 2-Think tanks cut Italy 2020 forecasts after dive in GDP, industry output
- Berlin documentary explores value of work in Germany's struggling car industry
- 'Immigration revolution' suggested as solution to Japan's dwindling working population
- Poker is a game of skill, has tremendous scope in India: Amin Rozani, MD, Spartan Poker