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The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The World Economic Forum published a report recently called The Future of Jobs. They found that:

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution, which includes developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine-learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3-D printing, and genetics and biotechnology, will cause widespread disruption not only to business models but also to labour markets over the next five years, with enormous change predicted in the skill sets needed to thrive in the new landscape.”

Many fear that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have a major effect on employment levels worldwide, it has been stated that by 2020 there will be a net loss of 5 million jobs across the top 15 developed and emerging nations to greater automation (7.1 million lost with 2.1 million created).

Bill Gates recently said that in order to slow the rate of automation taking jobs from humans we should tax the use of ‘robots’ to dis-incentivise their use. This has prompted many in this industry to cry hypocrite against than man who created at its height the largest technology company the world had ever seen.

But where is his evidence? Have the 3 previous industrial revolutions led to mass unemployment?

The definitive answer is no. Previous industrial revolutions have brought about changes in the job market unseen beforehand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US the wind farm technician is the occupation expected to see the largest amount of growth over the next decade.

We are able to predict where the biggest replacement of humans by automation will be. Most consistent or cognitive tasks are replaceable. We saw that in the second industrial revolution the manufacturing industries were automated and in the third digital replaced humans in carrying out large scale simple cognitive jobs.

So how do we plan for this?

Governments and business need to put an emphasis on skills. Training people in areas which can’t be automated and in the areas which service the new technologies (like the wind farm technicians).

At a meeting of chief executives of some of the world’s leading companies in Davos in January, Jonas Prising of Manpower (who knows a thing or two about employment) said “With automation… certainly there are going to be jobs that will be displaced, but most jobs will be impacted by technology in terms of specific tasks within the job that will change.” He went on to add “We have an optimistic view on (automation) and it is confirmed by our research.”

Where do the opportunities lie?

Erik Brynjolfsson, director at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy proclaimed that “The future is not preordained by machines. It’s created by humans.”

This must surely be the mantra for all going forward.

The great benefit of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is that it isn’t owned solely by big business with huge R & D budgets. A lot of the resources needed to create the new technologies are open source – people across the globe are able to collaborate with colleagues instantaneously and students are getting the help and guidance needed to innovate on a scale unseen before.

Here in the UK

At this month’s budget the chancellor of the exchequer made a start in helping the UK benefit from what is now being called 4IR, he has agreed to provide £300 million for new academic research and £200 million to expand high-speed broadband whilst stating that an extra £4.7 billion by 2020-21 will be spent on R & D.

Closer to home…

Manchester is leading the way in the facilities available to individuals and companies wanting to progress 4IR and this is why we have seen a recent influx of companies relocating to the city. With many accelerators and enterprise zones set up to provide the best environments for these forward thinkers it is no wonder that there are now organisations out there to assist the transition from other cities in the UK and abroad.

Partnerships between local authority and business have been encouraged here over the last 20 years and the city is thriving from a tech point of view. With Manchester Science Partnerships and the hub at Manchester airport providing opportunities not easily available elsewhere, and with the new £4million grant for 2 digital tech incubators in the city centre, Sir Richard Leese, the Leader of Manchester City Council, commented “Manchester is already a nationally and internationally significant centre for digital and tech businesses. Support for start-ups and growing businesses in this sector will both help create jobs and stimulate further investment. Manchester is determined to be in the forefront of the digital revolution and these two new tech hubs will make a key contribution and ensure that the £4m funding we were awarded has the best impact possible.”

Pomegranate Consulting

Here at Pomegranate Consulting we are doing our best to bring our expertise to the fore when dealing with entrepreneurs involved in 4IR. We apply our high accountancy standards whatever the industry but through our network are able to point people in the direction of trusted advisors with years of experience in industry, this is done through our mentoring work with organisations such as TiE (UK) North, UMIP and Manchester Entrepreneurs.

Director Ansar Mahmood said: “We often hear in the news about the negative impact of events, here at Pomegranate Consulting we like to turn that round and look for the opportunity. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is our next opportunity and Manchester needs to grab it with both hands, we dominated the first with Cottonopolis and there is no reason why we can’t do the same this time around.”

If you would like to have a discussion with a member of the Pomegranate Consulting team to see how we can help your business moving forward into this new exciting age then call 0161 974 0735, email info@pomegranateconsulting.co.uk or tweet us @Pomegranatecons

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