Education for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Technological and innovative advances influenced industrial revolutions. The first industrial revolution was caused by mechanization, the second by the use of electrical energy, and the third by electronics and automation. These industrial revolutions impacted not only manufacturing systems, but also workforce, training, and educational systems. Currently, industry is transitioning to a fully digitalized manufacturing system, and we are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0. The workforce, as well as training and educational systems, will be impacted by this new industrial revolution. This prompted academics to investigate potential changes in the education and skills of the future workforce. Students of today will enter a world that is more globalised, automated, virtualized, and networked. Industry is undergoing a transformation to full digitization and intelligent production as a result of this high-tech strategy, which converges industrial production and information and communication technology (ICT). The Internet of Things (IOT), the “Industrial Internet,” “Cloud-based Manufacturing,” and “Smart Manufacturing” are identified as the drivers of Industry 4.0 in this concept.

When discussing the fourth industrial revolution, it is stated that factories will become more intelligent and flexible, and that various sub-systems will be linked to each other. Machines will be linked to factory IT systems, which will be linked to other parts of the value chain such as plants, fleets, networks, and humans, and will constantly share information about stock levels, problems, difficulties, or faults encountered, and/ or changes in orders. This implies that there will be complete traceability, which will allow for the possibility of improving overall product and service quality. Various jobs will be lost as a result of changes in manufacturing processes, while many new jobs will be created. Physically demanding jobs will be phased out of the workforce as machines take their place. Because routine activities, such as monitoring duties, will be performed by machines, future employees will focus on creative, innovative, and communicative activities rather than routine activities. As a result, the workforce’s skills and qualifications will be critical to the success of these intelligent factories. The scholars categorized the skills that companies will need in the near future and those range from hard skills (including numerical and higher mathematical knowledge; problem solution skills, creativity and design skills; research and experimenting skills, information processing, computer programming, and know-how of using specific software, awareness of industry standards, and comfortable with using computers and soft skills like strong analytical thinking, communication, teamwork and leadership skills.

In the World Economic Forum (WEF) “The Future of Jobs” report, ten key skills which will be in demand by future companies were listed. The qualifications were not classified but most of them are soft skills, the skills listed are: complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, people management, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, judgment and decision-making, service orientation, negotiation and cognitive flexibility. Furthermore, because technological developments are moving at such a rapid pace, it is certain that digital literacy will be the key skill that everyone should consider as an asset in the Industry 4.0 era. In fact, in addition to all of the listed skills and qualifications, many researchers have stated that digital literacy will be a necessary and primary skill for the future workforce. Because of the rapid digitization, digital literacy is now required for today’s and tomorrow’s workforce. This affects both current workers whose jobs will be automated and may become obsolete, as well as today’s students who will be the future workforce. Many new jobs will be created, and many existing jobs will be modified to include a greater degree of interaction with digital technologies. It is expected that a basic level of digital literacy will be required for the majority of the workforce, with a higher demand for advanced levels of digital literacy. Technological advancements are causing industries to redesign their operations, markets, products, and ways of doing business, and even low-level jobs will require a basic level of digital literacy. As a result, the existing curricula and tools used in the existing educational system will need to be changed and adapted to create a new format or blueprint that will equip students with the essential employability skills required to remain competitive in industry 4.0.

Education evolves in response to changes in society and industry, providing organizations with the valuable human capital they require to thrive in the future. As a result, it is critical to upgrade and modernize educational systems by revisiting essential employment skills. Surprisingly, this upgrade has been long overdue and has been advocated for since many decades, both public and private, are lagging behind the transformation in learning that is taking place outside of them. In the context of our own UT of Jammu and Kashmir education sector has already suffered due to the lockdowns amid, it has lead us into a huge labyrinth of surging unemployment. Since the COVID-19 already became an eye opener for the whole world as every country started to rethink their socioeconomic, political and bureaucratic systems, it is a high time for our UT too to rethink our education system. After every critical juncture like pandemics or wars the nations have started a new journey towards progress and development and Japan is one of the best examples and case study that gave rise to the theory and concept of ‘National Innovation System’ post World War II. Japan taught us that how collaboration of different institutions (actors and sectors) can foster the culture of skill, innovation and economic growth of a country. Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic offered us the opportunity to start a new journey all together in creating a robust, skillful and innovative education system to create a talent pool that will keep our youth competitive in the fourth industrial revolution.

(The Author has done M.Sc. in Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship from NIT Srinagar. Email: muzamil_02ms20@nitsri.ac.in)

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