What skills will be Increasing in demand? – The Daly Weekly Comm (2024)

The World Economic Forum has predicted that by 2025 to 2030, economies and businesses around the world will not escape the impact of the 4th industrial revolution.

Many workers will be left jobless and need reskilling. Many will thrive in new jobs. Many will continue in jobs they are familiar with and that can’t be replaced by AI or robots; more than this, I believe these uniquely human capacities will be in even higher demand than ever before. Many will need upskilling in these capacities to remain competitive.

What skills will be Increasing in demand? – The Daly Weekly Comm (1)

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is, simply, the growing trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. This means that manufacturing models are turning into cyber-physical systems containing cyber things–like AI algorithms and cloud computing–and physical things–like the Internet of things and 3-D printers. Combined, this automated machine-to-machine (M2M) system gives birth to the smart factory that can receive, process and manufacture, and send out orders with little need for human assistance.

“Industry 4.0” is often called the fourth industrial revolution and has 4 main characteristics:

1) even more automation than in the third industrial revolution,

2) the bridging of the physical and digital world through cyber-physical systems, enabled by Industrial IoT,

3) a shift from a central industrial control system to one where smart products define the production steps,

4) closed-loop data models and control systems and personalization/customization of products. [1]

Jobs of the future

By 2030, many jobs that involve repetitive tasks will be phased out, like physical laborers in factories, cleaners and many office and administrative workers. On the other hand, jobs requiring more technical expertise and human capacities, like technology professionals, care providers and creatives, will flourish (see DW.com infographic based on data from the McKinsey Global Institute [2]). The impact of AI in particular will be far reaching. It is estimated that within 10 years, more than ⅓ of US workers will lose jobs or need to be reskilled for other professions. [3] One example of this destabilization involves writing professionals: many technical writer positions are already being replaced by AI programs, unlike editors who require a much more subtle and human expertise of language, information and communication.

What skills will need upskilling?

In the 4.0 workplace, skills and competencies can be divided into 3 categories: technical, managerial, and social. Technical skills relate to fields of hardware and software, and these are often referred to as hard skills. The other 2 categories, managerial and social skills, can be described as soft skills and mostly involve more uniquely human capacities. One academic report [4], lists 8 key skills for Industry 4.0:

  1. Creativity – perceiving in new ways, find hidden patterns, make connections
  2. Entrepreneurial thinking – identifying market opportunities and find methods and the right time to capitalize on them
  3. Problem solving – combining analytic and creative skills in a logical framework to solve problems
  4. Conflict solving – resolving conflicts with emotional maturity, self-control and empathy
  5. Decision-making – making choices by identifying a situation requiring a decision, gathering information, and evaluating possible alternative decisions
  6. Analytical skills – thinking processes that are needed to effectively evaluate information and which involve gathering information, visualizing knowledge, articulating and solving complex problems
  7. Research skills – selecting reliable sources of information and offer in depth information and advice on a topic
  8. Efficiency orientation – using resources efficiently and a key factor in decisions and action.

Many of these skills interrelate and can be collapsed to the 4 Cs in the “21st Century skills” discussion in education and workforce discussions: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication. Creativity obviously relates to creativity, and similar to critical thinking, it also underpins entrepreneurial thinking, problem solving, conflict solving, decision-making, analytic and research skills as well as efficiency orientation. Collaboration is involved with almost all of these key competencies because it is rarely the case that any of these skills is practiced alone. Finally, this list of skills takes for granted the communication skills required to convey the outcomes of these skills; for example, entrepreneurial thinking, problem solving and conflict solving require different sets of communication strategies to effectively and persuasively deliver a message.

The vanishing of dehumanizing, menial labor, on the one hand, and the growing demand for uniquely human labor on the other, sounds like a positive change. However, the changes that the 4th industrial revolution will bring will be widespread and rapid. They will destabilize many economies and industries, and by 2050 may lead to what historian Harari calls a “useless” class who will have no place or “use” in society. [5]

But the changes will lead to the valorization of human capacities — perhaps even the ultra-valorization of human capacities. Here’s the argument:

I. By 2025-2030 (WEF), industry 4.0 will have a huge impact on economies and businesses

II. There are 4 implications of this:

  1. Job losses (repetitive and mechanical jobs)
  2. Need for reskilling programs to help the jobless (hard skill, technical reskilling)
  3. New jobs for technical specialists
  4. Upskilling for workers in uniquely human jobs (soft skill upskilling)

III. For these uniquely human jobs, employers will place even greater importance on these human capacities

… and this will lead to:

IV. Higher expectations from employers and more sophisticated recruiting mechanisms to measure these skills

V. Increased competition among job seekers for these jobs

VI. Increased need for effective training to prepare these candidates – from both public but also commercial organizations.

Preparation for this ultra-valorization of human capacities needs to start in public education and continue into continuing education programs that support lifelong learning. With many countries suffering from shrinking workforces, like Japan and Taiwan, reskilling and upskilling programs for older workers and boomerang retirees will need to be initiated to satisfy job market needs. The most effective approaches will be blended online and offline programs within a problem- and project-based learning framework. In this way, many of these human skills and competencies can be simultaneously incorporated to simulate real world conditions. The challenge for educators and recruiters in the future is to create tasks designed to practice and demonstrate these skills and make them measurable. (1000+ words)


[1] https://www.i-scoop.eu/industry-4-0/#:~:text=Industry%204.0%20has%20been%20defined,and%20creating%20the%20smart%20factory%E2%80%9D.

[2] https://www.dw.com/en/artificial-intelligence-or-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it/a-45932260-0

[3] https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/jobs-lost-jobs-gained-what-the-future-of-work-will-mean-for-jobs-skills-and-wages#

[4] Grzybowska, K., & Łupicka, A. (2017). Key competencies for Industry 4.0. Economics & Management Innovations, 1(1), 250-253. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Katarzyna_Grzybowska/publication/322981337_Key_competencies_for_Industry_40/links/5aa0fb07aca272d448b2f576/Key-competencies-for-Industry-40.pdf

[5] Harari, Y. N. (2018). 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Random House.

What skills will be Increasing in demand? – The Daly Weekly Comm (2024)
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