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The Fourth Industrial Revolution – What will your job role be in 2020?


The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or the coming together of previously largely disparate areas such as robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, genetics and biotechnology, is increasingly driving demand for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in a wide range of high level CPD skills and knowledge areas.

The newly published World Economic Forum report ‘The Future of Jobs’ highlights the urgent need for employers and employees to future-proof their skills and knowledge base, at a speed far faster than was ever required by previous industrial and technology revolutions. The report has a 2020 needs focus, which gives only a five year time frame for the strategic skills developments to be planned and implemented by employers.

Scale of Strategic Shift

The scale of the required workforce development strategic shift identified is also very significant. The Fourth Industrial Revolutions is expected to open up many new business models and business opportunities for employers in market spaces such as ‘Smart Systems’, across a wide range of industry areas.

In turn this will immediately impact on the need for new job roles to enable the development and creation of these new business models, services, products and organisations, and the management of the rapid loss of, or change to high numbers of existing job roles.

Need for Rapid Employer Response

The resulting demand for high level specialist CPD for both existing and potential new emerging job roles, and self-employed sub-contractors, will be very high. The report identifies however that employers are not currently responding fast enough in order to deal with these rapid demands from a CPD perspective, and are also not currently recognising the type of skill sets which will be required.

Social skills, such as collaboration skills, persuasion, negotiation and social intelligence will be in higher demand than technical skills across many industries. CPD in these areas will be required for employees in existing roles undergoing significant change, and for those being recruited to newly established roles. Essentially, employees with high level technical skills will need these further skills added to their current skill set to enable them to respond to the new business models and emerging job families, job roles and functions.

The Top 10 Skills for 2020

The report finally identifies the Top 10 skills most in demand for 2020;

1. Complex Problem Solving

2. Critical Thinking.

3. Creativity

4. People Management

5. Co-ordinating with others

6. Emotional Intelligence

7. Judgement and Decision Making

8. Service Orientation

9. Negotiation

10. Cognitive Flexibility

Continuing Professional Development Solutions

Overall therefore it is clear that there is already a wide range of ‘strategic disruptions’ developing in the workforce development arena. A timely and fast response to investment in very specific continuing professional development solutions is essential, to position organisations and their employees to respond, in the very short term, to these challenges.

The new skills, which can be acquired through the use of a structured Continuing Professional Development process, are clearly identified however, and with the appropriately designed learning delivery model, can be built into the existing activities of organisations and individuals.

Whatever their newly emerging job roles may be in 2020!

Chris McLinden

Head of Continuing Professional Development

University of Liverpool CPD Team

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