The 4th Industrial Revolution and its Effect on Employment

The 4th Industrial Revolution

The prospect of being replaced by robots or AI has long lived in the collective human psyche. From science fiction novels to economic influencers and doomers, they all see some future where humans must contend with mass automation and job loss brought by the 4th industrial revolution and its effect on employment.

While arguments about unemployment and job loss are quickly followed by the idea that more jobs will be created than lost, many are worried that this time it’s different. It has been true throughout history that when major technological advancement happens, yes, jobs are indeed lost, but then jobs that previously did not exist come to be, and people are right back to work after a brief period of disruption and re-education.

This time, it may very well be the case. We see jobs today that did not exist one decade or so ago, jobs such as data science and analytics, social media management, app developers, and more. There lies a problem, however, in that many jobs of these jobs require a great degree of education.

Seeing lines and lines of code can scare anyone who is not the most tech-savvy, and the world only needs so many social media managers, influencers, affiliate marketers, and so on.

What is for sure is that automation will make standardized, repetitive jobs that involve patterns completely obsolete or, at the very least, decrease the number of jobs in demand.

This is something that companies are prepared to handle, and so are most people. However, there is one thing that is different this time around; that is the speed of change.

Key Impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution

New technology causes disruption; that’s a given. People, companies, and governments are mostly able to keep up pace with new technologies that are inherently good for productivity. This time, however, it is happening at a pace and scale unseen before.

On all levels of the financial pyramid, disruptions are happening at all times. From one year to the next, new technologies emerge that change the entire dynamic of an organization as a whole. This means that adaptation must happen continually, with the retraining and reskilling of employees becoming an inherent part of a company’s workflow and business model.

The school system is too slow to adapt, as anyone above the age of 18 can testify. So it will be largely up to companies around the world to take into account the major reskilling and upskilling of workers.

Firing and hiring employees based on their skill level is just too disruptive for any practical measure. On top of that, companies will begin to employ freelancers more firmly as part of their business model.

Advanced technology allows us to create more with less, and it allows fewer people t above what once needed an entire team. With automation and the internet making knowledge more available than ever, we are already seeing a wave of independent creators growing among previously 9 – 5 workers. Freelancing is definitely going to be a big part of the future of work.

Nowadays, you can design a product in Germany and print it in the UK. You can have a digital assistant from Africa working for a company in India.

The lines between the global and the local have more than blurred; they have melded.

Those left behind

Let’s look at the worst-case scenario. In a few decades, we may very well see multitudes of people unable to find stable work and will be unable to meet their basic needs. This is a recipe for disaster when it comes to public stability, leaving aside the moral aspect of letting millions of people go without a stable income.

This is why a public support system comes up in any discussion of the 4th industrial revolution and its effect on employment. At some point in the next few decades, governments will have to contend with the fact that many people just can’t find enough work to keep themselves and their families sustained in any meaningful way. In this worst-case scenario, which is still far away, mind you, many have suggested a sort of social safety net, in some suggested cases, a universal basic income, or UBI. With this, you would have a basic livable wage provided to every individual or family once per month, thereby bypassing the eminent need to work for sustenance.

This was and is the entire point of using AI and automation in our lives in the first place. To provides abundance in exchange for less work on our part. Those who sustain this abundance will still earn more, but at least we can provide for those left behind by the unstoppable march of technology.

Whatever the future holds, we must have faith that we are in the hands of humans after all, and we will not let our brethren fall into despair without a fight. Nothing can stand the way of progress, but this progress must, and will, be driven and guided by a human heart.

We may see a future with those that are struggling to scrape together a living juxtaposed by the financial elites living at the tip of the societal pyramid, but what is for sure are two things; firstly, that progress is driven and managed by human beings, not by machines, and that machines serve us at the end, no matter how it will look like in the future.


The 4th industrial revolution is here, and wit this great change there comes great fear. The fear that entire populations will become economically vulnerable and professionally obsolete in the face of increasing automation has long been in people’s minds.

It seems, however, that the change itself is not the main issue, but the speed of it. This the speed has prompted the conception of new and novel solutions such as the proposition of a universal basic income, and a new approach to employment and the reskilling and upskilling of labor.

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