The Fourth Industrial Revolution is coming, and you should be preparing your kids to be successful in this future. Unlike the first three revolutions which were about production, mass production, and automated production changing the world at a rapid, but linear pace, this revolution will be exponential. Technology will impact us in several ways: how we communicate, how we shop, and how we choose our careers, just to name a few.
Technology will change communication
Social media platforms open channels for communication across cultures and bring the world closer together. They also allow ideas and ideologies, whether good or bad, to spread quickly from one country to another. As a result, kids today are growing up in a generation where it is possible to become friends with someone they’ve met online but not in person. They can play online games with other kids in another city. But it is also possible to bully a kid and harm someone’s reputation solely by making remarks on social media.
Technology is changing how we shop
Online shopping provides convenience from your home or smartphone, but it also means innovators can adjust products, delivery, and services based on this consumer data. When today’s youth are old enough to have a credit card, they can use online reviews to educate themselves about a product before making a purchase. They can also be influenced by social media posts about what their friends have liked, or make an impulse buy with a few clicks on their convenient mobile app.
Technology is influencing careers
Not only is technology changing the way we communicate and shop, but it is also changing the future of jobs. The World Economic Forum released a report about how the future of jobs will be affected by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Here are just a few of the findings:
- In many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even 5 years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate.
- 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist.
- Demographic changes and technological advancements may lead to the net loss of 5 million jobs by 2020.
Another noticeable trend is that highly skilled workers are more in demand, while workers with less education and lower skills are less in demand as a result of advances in technology. How can we prepare kids today for tomorrow?
We must become careerpreneurs
Career Professionals of Canada believes that “Canadians in the labour market must assume responsibility for their own careers.” We should teach our youth to be careerpreneurs, which they define as an individual who works for their own career success by looking for emerging opportunities and taking advantage of their own career development. To do this, they must have the following approach: a strong understanding of the labour market, and a skill set for the 21st century.
The job market will change, depending on how technology affects the demand for specific skills. For example, STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) will increase in necessity. People will need to be literate in new media forms. Work will be available for those who can manage large amounts of data.
Small Medium Enterprises (SME) have an impact
Entrepreneurs, here defined as someone who operates a business, will be no different than employees. They too must be able to keep up with technology to continue to thrive. The most recent statistics from the Government of Canada on small medium enterprises (SMEs) reveal the following data:
- As of December 2015, there were 1.17 million employer businesses in Canada, and 1.14 million (97.9 percent) of the 1.17 million were small businesses.
- In 2015, 70.5 percent (8.2 million) of private sector employment consisted of employees working for small businesses.
- The majority of small and medium-sized business owners are in the “40–49” and “50–64” years of age categories. The highest percentage of SME owners is in the “50–64” years of age group.
Small businesses have a significant impact on employment. However, the percentage of SME owners in the 50 to 64 age group is consequential enough to have an impact on SMEs as this age group retires. Other research of note is that those who own small businesses tend to have around 5 to 10 years of business experience, and are more likely to have a college or trade school diploma, as shown below:
- The percentage of small business owners with 5 to 10 years of experience is higher than the percentage of medium-sized enterprise owners. But the percentage of medium-sized enterprises was higher in the 10+ years experience category.
- More than 60 percent of medium-sized business owners have a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, compared with 38 percent of small business owners.
The current data suggests that SMEs have an important impact on the Canadian economy. Having a university degree may not be as important for owning a small business. But, considering the advice for careerpreneurs, SME owners must be aware of what skills are in demand in the 21st century, and be aware of how these changes will impact their businesses.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is coming. It will greatly change our personal and professional lives, from the way we communicate, to how we buy goods, to what careers we choose. Children entering the school system today may be working in jobs in the future which don’t yet exist. To best prepare them, we must teach them to be labour market and skill set savvy.