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Industry 4.0 career guide: How to avoid being replaced by robots

Brandon Bernandus
Brandon Bernandus

Highly interested in disruptive technology and its impact on society and the economy

London | Mon, May 21, 2018 | 12:24 pm
Industry 4.0 career guide: How to avoid being replaced by robots

Being smart in choosing a career today can help us avoid being one of the people who will be replaced by technology in the future. (Shutterstock/File)

The younger generation in Indonesia seems to enjoy and embrace the development of new technology. However, only few are aware of the impacts technology will have on our lives. Industry 4.0 is often mentioned, but do we actually understand what it means?

Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, is the trend of using automation and data to perform day-to-day tasks. One of the biggest concerns with Industry 4.0 is the disruption it has on the job market.

The rapid development of technology is set to replace humans in a workplace. McKinsey predicted that 800 million jobs would be lost to automation by 2030. Some might think that these jobs are low-skilled jobs. Therefore, university degree holders or the so-called educated should not worry too much about being replaced by machines, since they will be considered skilled workers.

While it is true that low-skilled workers are currently the most affected group, the extremely rapid development of technology is now able to replace humans’ skilled work as well. Technology has gone beyond replacing humans’ muscle-power by being trained to perform cognitive tasks. Artificial intelligence, blockchain, chatbots are a few among many technologies that have and will continue to eliminate human jobs.

While this does not necessarily mean that we have no chance of surviving in a highly digital world, the younger generation needs to be ready to face the coming wave of automation and machine learning.

To survive Industry 4.0, here are some of the tips to minimize the potential of getting replaced by technology in the future:

Choose a tech-related career

The first obvious way to avoid competition with technology in the job market is by being an inventor, creator and innovator of technology. Twelve out of the 20 most promising future jobs according to LinkedIn report in 2017 are tech-related jobs. This indicates that knowledge and skills related to technology are currently in demand and going to be highly desirable in the future. Therefore, shifting your career in a more tech-related direction, learning how to code, or getting a degree in computer science will probably be the safest way to not be replaced by technology.

Look ahead, not back

While a technology-related career might be a good option, this does not mean that everyone should be a software engineer or data scientist. Our future high-tech world still needs professionals in fields other than technology. However, we need to be strategic in picking a career today by looking at the future, not the present or the past.

Industry 4.0 brings so much uncertainty to the job market that forces us to shift our mindset about our future career. People in the early career stage should no longer choose a profession based on the present or past situation.

Forget about how easy our uncle made money doing his job. A career that is prestigious today might not be as prestigious tomorrow. For example, being a banker might sound like a dream job in the past or even today. Unfortunately, the development of technology like artificial intelligence is predicted to cut 30 percent of banking jobs in the next five years.

Every job that is anticipated in the future requires a totally different skillset compared to the jobs we are familiar with today. Therefore, we should not prepare to do the job of the past, as they are no longer relevant in the future.

Stay informed 

If learning how to code or understanding the infrastructure of the internet is too much work, how about staying informed and updated about technology? Familiarizing yourself with the growing technology of today and what it can be in the future will also help you make better career decisions.

For example, blockhain makes it possible to fill in the institutionalized trust gap we often face by securely recording transactions between two parties. Knowing this today help us imagine what jobs might be affected in the future and shift our career interest accordingly. In the case of blockchain, we should no longer be surprised if notary or tax consultants, two of the most wanted and important jobs today, would be replaced by smart contracts in the near future.

Consider arts or sports

Sports and arts are not popular career options for young people in Indonesia because of the high level of financial insecurity and instability associated with them. However, sports and arts might be the most future-proof industries.

We enjoy sport stars and celebrities, because they are humans with talents. Imagine having 22 robots trying to score goals and win soccer matches or listening to a robot singer hitting that high pitch. It would not be as interesting as watching the world cup or going to a concert today.

You should start considering arts or sports for a career, especially if you are born with the right talent.

New technology is destroying and creating jobs at the same time. Being smart in choosing a career today will hopefully help us avoid being one of the people who will be replaced by technology tomorrow.

Technology might be a useful servant at present but turn into a dangerous master in the future. (kes)

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Brandon Bernandus is a MSc candidate at the London School of Economics and Political Science, majoring in global media and communications and focusing on digital media and technology. He is highly interested in disruptive technology and its impact on society and the economy.

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