Young Professionals as the drivers of Industrial 4.0

Young Professionals as the drivers of Industrial 4.0

Disrupting the disruptors and becoming the rebels leading Industrial 4.0

Industrial 4.0 is the label given to the gradual combination of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices with the increasingly technology world around us. This includes using large-scale machine learning and internet-of-things deployments to help manufacturers and customers alike provide increased automation, improved communication and monitoring, along with self-diagnosis and new levels of analysis to provide a truly sustainable and productive future.

The questions that then arise are, what will the future look like? Who will benefit more if robots are going to be taking over jobs? And what will our skills pool look like, and how different will it be from what it currently is?

Some of the trends that are steadily disrupting the engineering industry are; blockchain, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and internet-of-things (also known as IoT). These trends have resulted in the need to revise the current business models either from energy right through to construction. What this means is that the engineering landscape is rapidly changing. There is now more than anything need for the establishment of new skills. Young Professionals need to realise that as technology is evolving so is the landscape to which they work in. Yes, artificial intelligence and the internet is now making the processes fast and reliable, this is in additional to financially strong.

Young professionals need to remember:

  • This is the age of learning: If we examine some of the new trends arguably the biggest challenge is that there is insufficient talent in the current skill pool to be able to implement these technologies. It has become important that soft skills be focused on. Unfortunately, having just your qualification is not enough to be able to participate in the Industrial 4.0. Gone are the days where programming was just a skill for the Computer Scientist and the Information Technologist, gone are the days where website design was just a job for the developers. There is a lot of value now with attaining soft skills specially in terms of programming, due to the emergency of IoT and machine learning. Young professionals need to be adaptable to these new changes, because for example blockchain can be implemented in Asset management and the electricity utility market, same applying to drone technology in the Civil engineering sector.
  • The disruptors can be disrupted: Irregardless of the new technologies that are coming into the market, the processes can still be further improved. AI besides improving businesses and processes can be used to better the communities not just the Upper 1% of the nation. Services can be improved from either implementing AI in how service delivery is handled from waste management to access to new business opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • The world is moving with or without us on the Continent: If we are to compare a lot of the other developed countries on the Globe, a lot of progress is being made which is seeing economies grow. Self-serving restaurants to 3D printed houses are already in the market, and smart grids. However, what this means is that the talent in those fields is becoming more and more skilled. The disadvantage then comes in when it comes to opportunities where governments and organizations, are now rather contracting foreign companies to implement these technologies. We need to start looking into developing skills in house that will see opportunities being afforded to more and more African Young Professionals.
  • There is power in collaboration: Networking, a word that has been preached to a lot of us right after University. The general notion that comes to mind is “trying to further one’s career through building connections” ……to some level that is true, however the age we are living now, networking and collaboration have and are now becoming fundamental winning blocks to development. Young Professionals need to start forming networks and collaborations with  one another across all skills set. The value in that is because we are moving toward the “information age” where more and more it’s becoming very important to learn new skills, basically inter-skills transfer.

Adhering to this, it is also very important to note that having a voice and becoming a game-changer will almost be viewed as “rebellion”. We still cannot ignore the old fundamentals in terms of engineering principles which are vital, and it really is essential that one learns from the seniors. And despite that it is very important to remember that the basics are what you build on further to develop something. Only after that can you then start looking into implementing new technologies, as in “the Rebel with serious intent”.

Lastly, regardless of the millions of jobs AI will replace, the job now lies with us as Young Professionals, leaders of tomorrow to forge new ways in which our communities will benefit and not be marginalised. Systematic poverty is something a lot of disadvantaged Young Professionals are struggling to emancipate themselves from, and more than anything the onus lies with those who might have a voice to make sure the future does not favour a select few. We need to investigate new opportunities, that can help our communities, such as:

  • Developing new entrepreneurs, and training them
  • Establish new businesses that can facilitate for new job opportunities
  • Microgrids for rural communities without access to electricity

As a parting word, I would like to urge all Young Professionals to remember that, regardless of the many problems and challenges we see currently in our communities and nation, we have the power to change some of these problems through working together to formulating solutions and playing an active role especially in the Industrial 4.0. Research new technologies and acquire the skills, network and above all do not be afraid to lead the Industrial 4.0 revolution. In the famous words of Pablo Picasso, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

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