It’s called industry 4.0 — the fourth industrial revolution — and it could change people’s working lives beyond recognition. However, our workforce is increasingly polarised with the long-term shift to more high and low skilled jobs, creating an "hourglass" effect, with about a fifth of workers stuck on low pay. The UK has the fifth most unequal economy in Europe, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research.
At the bottom are a large number of people who either never progressed beyond GCSEs or gained only low-level qualifications. Too often, they end up in low-skilled, low-wage jobs, and the UK has a growing proportion of low-skilled jobs. Indeed, employers report a lack of digital and complex analytical skills in students.
In the UK, 22% of jobs don't require education up to the upper secondary level. In all other G7 countries, this figure is under 10%. We are the only Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country where younger people do not have stronger basic skills than the generation approaching retirement. The average salary for digital roles is just under £50,000, 36% above the national average. One million industrial workers need to learn digital skills, as the jobs of the future may have names we don’t recognise today — it really will be a brave new world.
However, as the economy picks up, skill shortages in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as managerial expertise, are becoming more apparent, raising questions about the development and deployment of people in the workplace. Diversity and inclusion will be the way forward for any progressive business.
“We need introverts, extroverts, left-brain thinkers, right bright thinkers, young minds, experienced minds and so on; true diversity in personality, attitude and approach.” These are the words of Natalie Sigona, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, BAE Systems
What this means is that the UK must embrace both continuous learning and innovation within learning. Creative people think differently, and one could argue that scientists do too. The City is looking for original thinkers, too, and collaborations between original thinkers and scientists or engineers mean that advances in AI technology will inevitably create exciting new industries. For example, there’s the term "systems farmer". This is someone who harnesses the revolution in synthetic biology and chemical engineering to "grow" parts.
Businesses will have to commit to retraining and upskilling their workforces, while big business and the government will need to support small businesses with apprenticeship schemes. At the end of the day, however, it’s down to the student to think creatively, embrace challenging subjects and be brave.
If yyou feel you have gaps in your knowledge which are holding you back, then it might be time to take some lessons and help yourself to grow. TutorExtra offers you the chance to sign up as a Student. Just find the right teachers and move forward with TutorExtra.