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The next in our series on the 4th Industrial Revolution, from the Business Optimization Training Institute (BOTI). Start with Part I here.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Future of Jobs Report 2018, over the next few years the 4th Industrial Revolution will have brought us to a point where current job categories will be partially or completely displaced and certain new types of occupations will emerge. Therefore, in most industries the required skill sets will radically change. The Future of Jobs Report also highlights those skills that are top of the list and will become essential in the new era. These skills, for the purpose of this article, will be termed the 3 C’s – that is:

The phoenix rises from its own ashes – from the ashes of the past will come the creation of 133 million new ‘human’ jobs of the future

It is estimated that by 2025 machines will be be geared up to handle half of all workplace tasks that can be automated. This will mean the displacement or loss of 75 million jobs. But, as one door closes another one opens and like the proverbial phoenix that rises from its own ashes, from the ashes of the past will come the creation of 133 million new ‘human’ jobs of the future.

As machines are further integrated into the workforce, jobs that currently involve a high percentage of repetitive tasks, such as receptionists and payroll clerks, have a very good chance of becoming completely automated in the near future and will become redundant as far as the human element is concerned. Yet, it is predicted that new job categories will also materialise. Some of these categories could include job titles such as AI assisted healthcare technician, digital archaeologist and AI lawyer.

A bolt from the blue

Looking ahead at the workplace of the future, job titles that we have currently never even thought of will suddenly appear almost as a bolt from the blue. This will also mean that the right qualifications and experience to fill these brand new roles remains an unknown factor at this stage. Therefore, ‘human skills’ will need to be identified in order to place individuals into the correct roles and these human skills will be those that are versatile to the point that they can be used across a broad range of unconventional careers. Such skills are the ones that will be protected from automation and keep humans on the payroll.

Let’s examine these core human skills and their relevance to the workplace of the future in a little more detail.

Complex Problem Solving

Complex problem solving is concerned with applying logic and using imagination to devise intelligent solutions to problems and is a much-needed skill in a number of industries. For instance, in the Information and Communications Technology sector, it is anticipated that the nature of work will become increasingly more complex and will require greater analytical skills. Hence, as the complexity of tasks increases, so too must one’s ability to find better ways to manage them also increase.

While the World Economic Forum envisages that at least one third of jobs spanning all industries will involve complex problem solving as an essential skill, it will not be as needed in technical industries.

Creativity

According to The World Economic Forum, Deloitte as well as McKinsey, creativity will become one of the most sought after skills in the next few years since it is a cognitive skill that cannot be automated. In fact, McKinsey estimates that it is now even more important than complex information processing and interpretation, as well as advanced literacy and writing skills, in that it is anticipated that the demand for skills involving a high degree of creativity will further increase by approximately 14 percent in Europe and 19 percent in the United States.

The 4th Industrial Revolution brings along with it a whole host of new technologies and sophisticated products and as a result, changes in the workplace to such an extent that will require both creative thinking and creative problem-solving skills.

  • Creative thinking: Creative thinking involves generating original ideas and unique ways of solving problems.
  • Creative problem-solving: Creative problem solving is concerned with solving issues that pose numerous possible solutions and how to determine the best way forward given these different variables.

While it is true that there are obvious solutions to many common problems encountered in the workplace, creative individuals tackle situations from all angles, which means that they are able to generate ideas and solutions that are new as well as stimulating and that often lead to important innovations.

While it is a known fact that robots are able to increase production efficiencies, for the time being robots are still unable to offer us anything along the lines of creative problem solving.

Critical thinking

The ability to detect, analyse and evaluate concepts and ideas as well as circumstances and information to devise suitable responses to problems are all attributed to critical thinking and are used by leaders on a daily basis in effective decision making.

While a computer is able to analyse and store information, it is not possible for it to work with data in devising creative solutions. The human element of critical thinking is therefore necessary when it comes to those tasks that involve decision making.

Exciting times ahead

As it currently stands, it appears that there are exciting times ahead in that what we can determine is that as fast as certain jobs are dying off, more new ones will start to form at an even more rapid rate and the demand for innovation, creativity, creative problem solving and critical thinking skills will continue to grow as jobs that require repetitive tasks will be taken over by machines. Those organizations that hone in on developing such skills and talents in the workforce and providing their staff with training and development opportunities to upskill in these areas will undoubtedly maintain a competitive advantage as we embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Read the rest of this series:

  1. May the 4th Industrial Revolution be with You, Part 1
  2. May the 4th Industrial Revolution be with You, Part 2: You Can Check Out Any Time You Like But You Can Never Leave
  3. May the 4th Industrial Revolution be with You, Part 3: ‘Domo Arigato, Mr Roboto…’
  4. May the 4th Industrial Revolution be with You, Part 4: ‘High on Emotion’
  5. (Currently reading) The 3 C’s: Complex Problem Solving, Creativity and Critical Thinking – Core Soft Skills Required in the Workplace of the 4th Industrial Revolution
  6. May the 4th Industrial Revolution be with You, Part 5: ‘Money’s too Tight to Mention’

About the author

Helen Fenton, Senior Analyst, Business Optimization Training Institute

Business Optimization Training Institute (BOTI) is a Johannesburg based, Level 1 BBBEE business. As a Services and MICT SETA accredited company, we have trained thousands of individuals from over 650 companies and our extensive course offering consists of Short Courses, Soft Skills Training and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Learnership Programs. In addition, we offer bespoke training programs designed to cater to specific business needs. Our training courses are focused on knowledge and skills transfer and we pride ourselves in being able to provide training anytime, anywhere across South Africa.

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