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The Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact on technical recruitment

15/08/16 David Philpott Manager, Electronics & Technology

We stand on the brink of a technological evolution that will change the way we work. In its scale, scope and complexity, the technological transformation will be unlike anything humankind has ever witnessed and experienced before. We do not yet know how it will unfold and the greatest impact will be that in five years from now when businesses adapt or are learning to adapt to new technology forces.  Over one-third of skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed. One clear response in terms of the future of recruitment is that the response to the fourth industrial revolution must be integrated and comprehensive when sourcing new candidates for engineering and technology jobs.

Building on the third revolution, which saw the use of electronics and information technology automate production, the fourth industrial revolution sees the digital revolution being autonomous, incorporated with artificial intelligence, machine learning, biotechnologies and genomics. These developments will transform the way we live, and more so, the way we work. Some technical jobs will disappear, others will grow and jobs that do not even exist today will become commonplace. It’s undeniable that the future workforce will need to align its skillset to keep pace with the ever changing demands of engineering and technology jobs.

The new Forum report, The Future of Jobs looks at the employment, skills and workforce strategy for the future. One of the main issues will be disruption in industries such as Technology, Engineering, Manufacturing and Operations. The possibilities of billions of people connected to mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity and access to knowledge are unlimited. These possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs, which are already a prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution. We will see advances in fields such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, biotechnology, nanotechnology, material science, quantum computing and energy storage.

Already we have seen artificial intelligence, from self-driving cars, drones to virtual assistants and software that allows such automation to translate. Engineers, designers and architects are combining computational design, material engineering, additive manufacturing and synthetic biology to pioneer a symbiosis between microorganisms with our bodies, the buildings we inhabit and the products we consume.

What are the challenges and opportunities in technical recruitment?

Creativity will become one of the foremost necessity skills. With an avalanche of new technologies, new products and new ways of working and thinking, candidates will need to become more creative in order to benefit from such changes. Currently, robotics may help speed up the production process, however robots will never be as intelligent as humans…watch this space.

The World Economics Forum’s Global Agenda Council predicts in the survey for the Future of Software and Society expects artificial intelligence machines will be part of a technology company’s board of directors by 2026. The future is unpredictable.

David Philpott, Manager of Redline’s Permanent Engineering Division comments: ‘Some advances are ahead of others. Mobile internet and cloud technologies are already impacting the way we work. Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Material and 3D Printing are still in their early stages of use within technology companies, but the pace of change is already fast. As a technical recruitment Manager, with over 14 years’ industry and vast recruitment experience, I have witnessed how the Third Industrial Revolution changed the technical recruitment industry and my advice to business leaders, hiring managers and educators is that we must be proactive in up-skilling and retraining staff so that the impact of the Fourth Revolution will have far less damage and everyone can benefit from the technical changes.”

David continued: “Disruptive changes to business models will have a profound impact on the employment landscape over the coming years. Many of the major drivers of transformation currently affecting global industries are expected to have a significant impact on jobs, ranging from significant job creation to job displacement, and from heightened labour productivity to widening skills gaps. Overall, the inexorable shift from simple digitisation in The Third Revolution to innovation based on combinations of technologies in The Fourth Revolution is forcing technology and engineering companies to re-evaluate the way they do business. The bottom line is, business leaders need to thoroughly understand the impact of technical revolutions and the changing environment, alter the assumptions of their operating teams and continuously and warmly welcome innovation.”

Redline Group provides permanent, interim and contract recruitment solutions in conceptual design, development, integration, test, support and manufacture, throughout the UK and Europe. Our team of technically specialist electronics recruitment consultants work with a broad variety of clients in some of the fastest moving industry segments. Our consultants provide complete solutions for electronics jobs sectors including both hardware and software engineering / systems for a variety of industry segments including Telecommunications, Wireless Communications, Broadcast, Semiconductors, Aerospace, Consumer, Automotive, Medical, Industrial, Computer Hardware and Process Control sectors.

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