Skip main navigation

Welcome to the future

The impact of technology at work. In this article we introduce the industrial revolutions and how technology will impact the world of work.
A vision into the fourth industrial revolution
© Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

In this step we look at why the future is now and what the 4th Industrial Revolution means for us.

Each societal evolutions had a dramatic impact on the way we live our lives:

  • 1765 – 1st Revolution, Mechanization
  • 1870 – 2nd Revolution, Mass Production & Technological Revolution
  • 1969 – 3rd Revolution, Automated Production & Digital Revolution

Each revolution aimed to advance human civilisation forward in it’s continual ambition for a better and more fulfilling life, our current revolution is no different.

  • Today – 4th Revolution, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Cloud Computing, Cyber-Physical Systems

Welcome to The Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is happening around us as we speak. Artificial Intelligence and Cyber Worlds are the stuff of science fiction films. Metaverses and alternate realities were all pop culture imaginings of the future in decades gone by. Now you can live some of those realities (or variations). Do you want an IoT, Big Data powered self-driving car? You can get one. Fancy hiding away for an evening exploring a virtual world? You can do that this evening. We live in a global digital world.

Industry is evolving to make use of and develop further these technologies. Virtual and physical systems of manufacturing cooperate with each other. For many this is an exciting time as technologies seen in fiction of their youth are becoming reality. But what does this mean for the world of work – will humans be redundant in the future of work? Or will the line be blurred between human and robot?

We are in the beginning of the 4th industrial revolution. But what does that mean for us and our children? It is up to parents to understand these rapid changes and pass this information on.

Taking this course is a first step to doing that. Great work!

The first 3 Industrial Revolutions proved to be ground breaking in Primary and Secondary Industries and starting to develop the Tertiary service based sectors. Current changes are no different, Primary & Extractive Industries need to be greener and more sustainable. The extractive industry is not going anywhere, but the processes have changed. The same is true of Secondary Manufacturing Industries. There is a greater aggregation of advanced technologies that are coming together to create “advanced manufacturing”.

The Tertiary sector much like in the second industrial revolution has had to develop to keep up and support the new economies and growth in related social value. As a society we consume far more now, entertainment, content, product etc. Which also means there are new industries coming into existence to fulfil that societal need. Pro Gamer is a role that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Not an easy one to get into but it certainly can be considered a legitimate career. This means that while some roles will be diminished there is huge amounts of opportunity to apply technology to new job roles and existing industries.

What is the real impact if technology is going to play such an important part of the future workplace?

What are the tangible implications of technology being utilised in the workplace?

The recent pandemic has been the cause of a wholesale shift in the way we work. The reality is that these changes were already happening, the pandemic just expedited the process. Companies are more likely to hire remote workers through the improvements in communications services as more people start to work from home and the office environment becomes increasingly redundant.

Without a reasonable understanding of what is happening around us, opportunities may be missed. In 2022 50% of Companies believe automation will decrease their staff (World Economic Forum). In 2017, Mckinsey predicted 400-800 million jobs potentially being lost by 2030. Does this trend continue to grow?

Labour intensive industries such as agriculture, construction, cleaning, driving are all being automated. Tesla is building a number of Gigafactories around the world, each being put up faster and faster. Some breaking ground to enter production in less than a year. This is achieved by developing processes off site using many technologies and executing on-site again with meticulous planning. In what is almost a production line. One team will come in no sooner have they finished, the next team is fitting the next element. Increasing efficiencies like this allow for rapid execution.

What is most interesting to see from the list from the OECD (see HERE), looking at the likelihood of roles becoming obsolete or automated is those which are in Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Industries. Clearly not all industries will be impacted equally. Primary and Secondary industries where job roles are highly repetitive are more at risk than service based and creative industries. If this sounds like the first and second industrial revolution all over again, you might be right, only this time more and more complicated tasks are at risk due to modern technologies.

What types of roles do you think are more unlikely to be affected by the fourth Industrial Revolution?

Have a think, leave your answers in the comments and maybe take a break. The next session we will be asking you to reflect on your own career.

© Nexgen 2022
This article is from the free online

Preparing your Child for the Future of Work

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now