In industry 4.0, a job will require a new type of professional education that blends technical and human knowledge, in addition to a constant appetite for learning

Who’s afraid of the industry 4.0?

In many circles, the arrival of a fourth industrial revolution causes goosebumps. For those worried, what’s most scary is unemployment. Many fear that, with the arrival of the increasing automation driven by artificial intelligence, machines will take over a large portion of jobs.

This fear is understandable.

After all, it’s true that some jobs will vanish. According to a survey by the University of Brasília (UnB), by 2026, chances are high or very high that occupations assigned to 54% of Brazilians in formal work will be taken over by robots. Globally, according to a research by the World Economic Forum, 75 million jobs will be gone due to technologies such as automation by 2022. If the period analyzed is extended to 2030, a study by consulting firm McKinsey shows that between 400 million and 800 million workers may be replaced by machines.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is the fourth wave of the industrial revolution. According to the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC), “the first three revolutions churned out mass production, assembly lines, electricity and technology.” The fourth relies on expanding the adoption of artificial intelligence, robotics, automation and Big Data, and other technologies, as allies in the search for an ever more efficient production process. This new reality will require a new type of education from workers.

Curiously, the same survey by the World Economic Forum shows that, for the estimated period, 133 million new jobs will be generated. The bottom line is that the positive balance will reach 58 million occupations. More: new vacancies will be better than those closed and will require skills such as critical thinking, creativity and emotional intelligence from employees. The study by McKinsey reiterates this theory: of all people who are to be transferred from their roles, up to 375 million will be required to change their occupational classification. This means they will need to learn and develop entirely new skills, but will not be reached by unemployment.

And here comes the crux of this discussion: employment in industry 4.0 goes, invariably, through a new type of labor qualification. Now, more than ever, a qualification that blends technical excellence and skills such as critical and broad thinking, emotional intelligence and development of global skills will make a difference.

Sailing through these new waters will not be easy, but it’s far from impossible.

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Training for industry 4.0

In early 2019, Senai, the National Service for Industrial Training, which operates in Brazil since 1942, developed a new course called “Industry 4.0 Walkthrough.” With the introduction content on the topic and 20 hours of length that may be completed online, free of charge, the discipline had 70 thousand subscriptions in less than four months. People from 63 countries on the five continents subscribed in order to better understand the industry 4.0, its main challenges and opportunities.

“Professions don’t end, they change,” said Felipe Morgado, Executive Manager for Professional and Technology Education at Senai. “And professionals need to change along or they will lag behind.” To Morgado, the number of subscribers in a course such as Industry 4.0 Walkthrough shows a healthy concern on the part of workers for what it is about to come. “There’s always a lot to be done by humans,” said Morgado.

In a hotsite dedicated to industry 4.0, Senai places worker and manager reskilling as the second out of four crucial steps towards industry 4.0 (the first is shrinkage of production processes). To the institution, this reskilling includes both the development of technical skills, known as hard skills, and behavioral skills, or soft skills. Among hard skills, programming and data analysis techniques stand out, in addition to the use of sensors and electronics. As for soft skills, skills for solving complex problems, leadership and communication skills come first. “Professionals need to change their mindset and be willing to learn how to learn,” said Morgado.

“But it’s not true that everyone needs to learn artificial intelligence, for example – it’s not like that,” completed the executive manager at Senai. He explained that different fields in different companies have very peculiar sets of characteristics that may, or not, justify trainings in the most hyped skills at the moment. “If my field hasn’t been automated yet, for example, it will hardly be one of the first to be influenced directly by artificial intelligence,” said Morgado. In this regard, rushing to learn artificial intelligence skills may not be the best decision in this reality.

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For those who are not certain on the fate of their own field, Morgado suggests the development what he calls “cross-technical skills.” Things such as programming and electronics. “These are always usable,” he said.

Governments and industry 4.0

Aware of such changes that the industry 4.0 may bring to labor, economy and society as a whole, governments in different countries have worked to get ready for what’s to come. The website 4th Post, specialized on this topic, mentions at least eight nations (USA, Singapore, United Kingdom, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan and China), besides the European Union, who already have consolidated initiatives in this regard – some dating back to 2011.

In Brazil, for example, the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC) developed the Industry 4.0 Work Group (GIT 4.0). Since 2017, the group works hard on what they call “national agenda” on the topic. Over 50 institutions, among municipal and state governments, companies and representatives of the organized civil society have been working to increase the competitiveness of Brazilian companies, better understand the changes to come into production chains and job markets, estimate what future factories will look like and disentangle the massification of digital technologies that make up the ground of what is understood as industry 4.0.

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Optimism and Work

There is reason for optimism. Expectation is good for workers who constantly seek either technical or human improvement and make it a habit. And if history serves as example, we can look back at the arrival of the personal computer to the job market, in the early 80s. A study by McKinsey, a consulting firm, showed that, in the United States alone, between 1980 and 2015, 3.5 million jobs vanished due to that technology novelty. However, in the same time frame, 19.2 million new occupations were generated due to personal computers. In the end, the outcome was positive for 15.7 million American workers, thanks to the new technology.

What are your plans to get ready for industry 4.0?

Content published in June 18, 2019

What Braskem is doing about it?

Good work environment, fair wages, conditions to act with safety and ethics, respect for diversity and individuality, and acknowledgment and recognition of individuals are paramount for the citizens’ well-being and, consequently, their happiness. These are some of the pillars of the EVP (Employee Value Proposition) presented by Braskem to establish a positive culture among its employees and their relations with the general public.

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