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How to Prepare Workers and Customers for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Few things fluctuate more than the economy, and many communities are still recovering from a financial crisis that took place over a decade ago.

To thrive in today’s economy, companies and individuals are changing not only the way in which they do business, but also how they partake in their daily lives.

Klaus Schwab, former president of the World Economic Forum, coined the term “fourth industrial revolution,” to describe an era of “technological revolution […] that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

That era is upon us, and big changes are happening everywhere.

Recently, we talked about how this year’s tech trends are the stepping stones for the imminent flip of the digital switch already transforming countless jobs, cities, services and experiences.

However, with great power comes great responsibility, hence why the World Economic Forum discussed how to better prepare all of society for these times of change in its latest annual meeting.

Here are the key takeaways:

Reskilling and upskilling workers

Automation continues to fast-track administrative work, customer service, agriculture and beyond. And while it will undoubtedly remove some tasks from the pipeline, it will also lead to the upskilling or reskilling of workers.

We will become better trained at working alongside technology, taking on more creative and critical thinking responsibilities. Of course, a process needs to be established to ensure workers aren’t simply displaced by newcomers.

The Forum, for instance, has been collaborating with Tata Consultancy Services to promote the fostering of these future skills in Argentina, India, Oman and South Africa since 2017. They also note governments will have to take on the brunt of investment in reskilling workers that could be displaced by technology in the next decade.

Promoting equality

As we move forward in the digital age, we must ensure we are doing so in the best way possible. Through each industrial revolution, women were able to increase their presence in the workforce. On the other hand, discrepancies between salaries, positions and dynamics remain.

The Forum pinpointed Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, France, Panama and Peru as points of expansion for their Closing the Gender Gap initiative, a project that “aims to create global and national public-private collaboration platforms to address current gender gaps and reshape gender parity for the future.”

But, we must not lose sight of the fact that this is a global struggle, present in a wide range of industries. That being said, there is no doubt through inclusion and mutual respect, we can eradicate inequality in the workplace and beyond.

Preparing civil society

Even if we don’t work at an analog company turned digital, our lives as customers and civilians are constantly changing due to technology. At Ria, for instance, our guiding light when it comes to digital innovation is ensuring all our customers can continue to use and rely on our services, regardless of whether they have access to formal banking and the Internet.

Technology needs to serve society, not vice versa, and to prevent tech from destabilizing society, society must maintain an open dialogue about innovation, inclusion and morality.

Supporting fragile economies

It’s easy to get caught up in the brilliance and complexities of technology. However, we can’t forget industrial revolutions are not a simultaneous global phenomenon.

While established economies are busy proposing plans to institutionalize new tech, fragile economies are still struggling to latch onto the second industrial revolution.

The Forum, the World Bank and the International Committee of the Red Cross have joined forces to launch a high-level group for humanitarian investing looking to promote private-sector investing into fragile economies.

Our customers, in the meantime, continue to support their families in these economies through remittances, an industry that moved over US$450 billion to developing countries in 2018.

Thus far, remittances are the strongest link between the fourth industrial revolution and those it has left behind.

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