I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people say Industry 4.0 is going to put them out of a job, but it seems to me we’re looking at it from the wrong angle: if there’s one sector that offers well-paid jobs, it’s precisely Industry 4.0.
The fear of being replaced by technology is a recurring one for our species. For example, the introduction of the personal computer (PC) changed how and where people work, which, at the time, created a wave of uncertainty about the future of the job market.
According to a study by McKinsey, between 1980 and 2015, the PC replaced 3.5 million workers in the United States, but at the same time it created 19.2 million new jobs. i.e. almost fivefold the number it took. And the experts predict similar job growth as a result of the implementation of Industry 4.0.
In the United States alone, it is estimated that 250,000 data analysts will be needed for all the artificial intelligence projects in the pipeline, while a recent study by Deloitte found that 85% of executives believe they have the necessary talent and capacities to make the digital transformation. And I couldn’t agree more: every year, over 223,000 students in Mexico graduate with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The talent is definitely there, but in my opinion, what is lacking is a radical change in the way we attract and retain it.
We need to teach Mexico’s young people and executives how to exploit the opportunities Industry 4.0 offers. Training and resilience are crucial in this respect. Companies need to implement continuous training programs and employees need to proactively seek to expand their knowledge so they are equipped to successfully respond and adapt to the changes brought about by digitalization in the future.
According to Deloitte, the technology companies implement in a bid to join Industry 4.0 fail not because the systems themselves are defective, but because people find them too difficult or complex.
So what, then, is the point of the digital transformation? To ready our young people and employees for these changes. This is one of the goals of Industrial Transformation Mexico, which will be organizing 50 conferences and seminars focused on new technologies. If you are interested in visiting us in León, Guanajuato on October 9-11, you can register free of charge on our microsite: https://industrialtransformation.mx/
To sum up, will Industry 4.0 take our jobs? No, but it will demand better-prepared talent.
By Bernd Rohde
*Director-general of Hannover Fairs Mexico