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FuTure of Work

​"Prepare yourself for jobs that don’t yet exist using technologies that haven’t yet been invented to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet".

U. S. Secretary of Education,

Richard W. Riley 

4th Industrial Revolution.webp

The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production.


The Second used electric power to create mass production.


The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production.


The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the current  and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data and data analytics are changing the way we live and work.

A brief history of
industrial revolutions
Brief history of industrial revolutions
The 4th Industrial Revolution

The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent

When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.

Read more about it on Weforum.

And Covid-19 could well be accelerating the digital transformation.

The 4th Industrial Revolution
Automation and AI will lift productivity and economic growth, but millions of people worldwide may need to switch occupations or upgrade skills

A 2020 report from the World Economic Forum finds that by 2022, much job growth will come from seven professional areas:

  • care economy e.g. physiotherapists, fitness trainers

  • data and AI e.g. data scientist

  • engineering and cloud computing e.g. cloud engineer, python developer

  • sales marketing and content e.g. social media coordinator

  • human resource e.g. recruiter

  • product development e.g. quality assurance engineer

  • green industry e.g. sustainability officer, wastewater engineer

Job market trend
What about Singapore?

A study showed that 20.6% of Singapore’s workforce could be displaced by 2028 due to Artificial Intelligence. This is due to the exceptional enabling environment in Singapore for innovation and digital transformation, which means businesses here can readily take advantage of new innovations as they become available. However, as a result, many jobs will also be created. The diagram below shows the combined impact of technology on both displacement and income effect in ASEAN. While some sectors will experience a net loss of jobs by 2028 like Agriculture, most sectors will experience a net increase like Wholesale & Retail. 

Effect on jobs.png
Impact on Singapore

It is well-known that there is an acute demand for IT skills, not just in IT industries but across all sectors. In the study, it is shown that 41% of redundant workers are lacking in IT skills.  This does not mean that half of the workforce should become data scientists.

It means that

In Industry 4.0, Data Literacy is no longer optional
despite the disruption being technology-based in nature, the workforce’s most significant challenge is to upgrade its softer, foundational and interactive skillset.
Skills mismatch.png
Most important skills in the workforce today (article)
  1. Willingness to be flexible, agile and adaptable to change

  2. Time management skills and ability to prioritize

  3. Ability to work effectively in team environments

  4. Ability to communicate effectively in business context

  5. Analytics skills and business acumen

  6. Technical core capabilities for STEM

  7. Capacity for innovation and creativity

  8. Basic computer and software/application skills

  9. Ethics and integrity

  10. Foreign language proficiency

  11. Fundamental core capabilities around reading, writing and arithmetic

  12. Industry- or occupation-specific skills

“Reskilling for technical skills is typically driven by structured education with a defined objective with a clear start and end, building behavioral skills takes more time and is more complex.”

Amy Wright, IBM Managing Director

Most important skills today
The rise of the gig economy

The gig economy consists of companies who engaged contract workers for a temporary period or project-based jobs, instead of hiring them for permanent positions.

According to Forbes, more than one third of U.S. workers are in the gig economy, and they are dominated by millennials who are attracted to the flexibility to try new things, acquire new skills and meet new people.

Technology is a big enabler of this mode of freelance work – with a smartphone and one of those ubiquitous unlimited data plans (or a good Starbucks or indie café with fast wifi and a power outlet) – you can work from just about anywhere. 

Gig Economy
What do all these mean for you?

Be prepared for a world where

the gig economy is the norm and

everyone is expected to be data literate


Success in this new world boils down to

knowing who you are and what you are good at,

having relevant and transferable skills and

being nimble enough to re-learn new skills

throughout your life

Your future university is the starting place for you to

learn the skills and make the human connections

necessary to survive in this new world

What does it mean for you
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