how to prepare for industry 4.0

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Changes in technology and the digital world have allowed companies to become more efficient, competitive and cost-effective in their activities. Where there were once typewriters, fax machines and storerooms, now there are computers, emails and storage software.  While the ability of technology to create this kind of speed and efficiency in the workplace means positive outcomes for businesses, it is changing the very way that companies are structured and the future of jobs.

Like the impact of the first to third industrial revolution, the fourth industrial revolution will invariably lead to job losses, it will also lead to the creation of different types of jobs - and there lies the opportunity. How we manage and prepare for this ever-changing landscape as a country and continent, will truly determine the state of development and our future economic state.

The World Economic Forum’s “The Future of Jobs Report” states that jobs that face the biggest threat are middle-skilled, white-collar positions such as secretaries, bank tellers, cashiers, financial analysts, auditors and so on. According to a report by Dr Roze Phillips, this is a total of almost 5.7 million jobs that are currently at risk of total digital automation within a mere seven years.

Since middle-skilled and low-skilled positions make up the largest proportions of workers in SA, actions need to be taken prepare for this kind of change. Important endeavours need to be taken to assist communities in the wake of 4IR.

The question then becomes, what can we, as individuals, do to prepare ourselves for an increasingly changing economy?

According to the WEF report, “By 2022, no less than 54% of all employees will require significant upskilling. Of these, about 35% are expected to require additional training of up to six months, 9% will require reskilling lasting six to 12 months, while 10% will require additional skills training of more than a year.

Increasing your knowledge then becomes a pivotal part of preparing yourself for 4IR – learning and growing with the digital world, as it advances, can help you leverage it to your own advantage.

If you're looking to grow along with the changes in digital, here are some things you need to know:

Constantly upskill yourself

By 2030, around 375 million people globally will need to change their occupation or acquire new schools of thought. According to the WEF report, nearly a quarter of companies are undecided or unlikely to pursue the retraining of existing employees, and two-thirds expect workers to adapt and pick up skills in the course of their changing jobs. To remain an attractive candidate for employers, you need to be constantly upskilling yourself in relevant skills.

By improving your digital skills, not only are you able to upscale your digital skills to benefit you personally, but you’re also able to upscale yourself to become a valuable and indispensable employee in your working environment.

At Digify Africa, we offer a range of training from beginner to professional to ensure that young people are able to gain a livelihood in the digital economy.

Digify Africa offers free/affordable courses (With the most expensive being R2 500) because we understand that 4IR threatens to widen the economic divide in the country even further, as costs still greatly limits access to digital courses.

We're also currently hosting a Youth Day event in partnership with Facebook to help educate young people about digital tools they can use to boost their careers. The event will take place through workshops, crash courses and a celebration of young people’s achievements in the digital industry.

If your job is going digital, take it with you

No matter where you are or what your profession is, your job is likely to be affected by 4IR. Your task is to see which part of your job is being affected by digital and to also be cognisant of the gaps that are still left open by an economy that’s still very new. Almost every profession has the ability to grow from digital advancements. Our job is to look at the many innovative ways we can adapt to these changes. At the moment, careers in teaching and legal advising are listed as one of the many jobs that are going to be taken over by technology. And yet, the field of education and law has not caught up with many of these technological advancements. If professionals in this field can see the gaps in these fields as opportunities to improve legal educational and other systems alike, then their jobs are less likely to suffer from 4IR.

Hone your Soft Skills

While digital skills are central to job security and positioning in 4IR, soft skills will also play an increasingly significant role in the workplace environment. ‘Human’ qualities that require creativity, emotional intelligence, social influence and leadership will be indispensable to businesses. In an era where communication and contact is digitised, companies seek to be more authentic in their approach to people because they know that the ability to ‘connect’ and appear as more human is integral in business relationships. Social media has already shown us this through people’s desires to engage online, something that companies try to drive on their social media profiles. If you can market yourself as an individual with qualities that can impact others, allow people to trust your lead and be able to cooperate with others easily, then you can complement your digital literacy and increase your appeal to the job market.

Understandably, the digital revolution might seem frightening for many people, but there is much to benefit from in the age of 4IR. The revolution is not only introducing new job opportunities, it’s also creating proficiency and creating improvements in places where there is dysfunction. While there is much to be done for communities in

respect of these changes, there are also things we can do as individuals to ensure our viability in the digital economy. It’s simply a matter of time.