‘I’m readying you for green collar jobs of Industry 4.0’ (IANS Interview)

An eagle does not fight the snake on the ground. Instead, it picks it up in its beak, soars up to the sky and drops it from there. The fall proves fatal and the snake dies. Height is the eagle’s area of strength and the snake’s area of weakness, brand builder and corporate educator Rajesh Srivastava, writes in a new book that provides a 10-point mantra that will prepare you for the green collar jobs of the 4th Industrial Revolution that is upon us.

“We are in the midst of Industry 4.0. It is powered by technology. Whenever it colludes with an industry it disrupts it. In its wake some businesses and jobs disappear, new ones are born, but almost all will change,” Srivastava told IANS in an interview of his book, ‘The 10 New Life-Changing Skills – Get Them & Get Started’ (Penguin Business)

“Let us take banking. The job of cashier is disappearing and is being taken over by the ATM. The jobs of other bank employees who took cash, processed payments, accepted Fixed Deposit (FD) and provided a host of other services are fast disappearing. In their place new jobs are being created,” he added, pointing out that what is true for banking is true for many industries.

For instance: retail has been disrupted by e-commerce, taxis have been disrupted by ride hailing service providers and entertainment by OTT platforms.

“Till now the world has witnessed 3 Industrial Revolutions (3IRs) which created blue collar and white-collar jobs. It required people to carryout instructions, not question authority and follow time-tested systems and processes.

“Now, we are in the midst of the 4th Industrial revolution (4IR), also called Industry 4.0. It is creating green collar jobs, which mandates people to ‘think, reflect and act’. This requires them to possess 10 new life-changing skills,” Srivastava said, enumerating these in four categories.

Higher level cognitive skills:

1. Creativity – This requires the use of imagination to combine and connect different ideas in new and imaginative ways to come up with big ideas.

2. Innovation – This requires the discovery of opportunities and implementing ideas to achieve profitable results.

3. Critical Thinking – This requires challenging traditions, questioning assumptions and defying norms that have outlived their utility, and installing new ones in their place.

4. Framing the Right Question – This will lead to the right answer, which will open up a treasure trove of new business and opportunities that would have remained undiscovered but for the right question.

5. Smart problem-solving – This requires leveraging creativity, innovation, critical thinking and similar skills to come up with smart solutions.

Self-management skill:

6. Lifelong learning – This increases employability, accelerates career advancement, enhances self-confidence, helps one remain relevant and face the unexpected with aplomb; in brief, a passport to being a lifelong winner.

Social skills:

7. Storytelling – It’s the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.

8. Influence without authority – This helps people to see your way of thinking, motivates them to support your initiatives and adopt your idea of their own free will.

Emotional skills:

9. Humanness – In the earlier 3IRs, people did what they were told to do and therefore, they brought their bodies to work, leaving their minds and hearts behind. The green collar jobs that Industry 4.0 is giving birth to entails thinking and reflection. Therefore, people must bring their minds, hearts and bodies to work. This has the potential to unlock people’s unlimited potential.

10. Entrepreneurial spirit – This is an intangible energy that inspires people to harbour aspirations greater than the resources at their command. When this spirit is alive, businesses keep their mojo and maintain their edge.

Considerable research has gone into the writing of the book.

“A decade back, I had come across research in which a question was posed to CEOs: What keeps you awake at night? Most said that the volatility, uncertainty and ambiguity which has become the new normal in business keeps them awake at night.

“They were then asked the next question: What is the magic pill which would give you a good night’s sleep? Most answered that if their team members were innovative then they would be able to sleep in peace, because innovation is strongly linked with value creation,” Srivastava said.

He also read the World Economic Forum reports which said that half of us will need to re-skill due to the onset of Industry 4.0, which is leading to increasing automation & transforming jobs.

“These triggers got me interested in identifying, understanding and writing about skills which can make people ready for Industry 4.0,” Srivastava explained.

How does he see the world a year from now – say, on January 1, 2024?

“I foresee a few things taking centre stage,” Srivastava said, listing these as:

* Sustainability will become a core aspect of an organization.

* AR/VR/MR will go mainstream.

* Robots, intelligent machines and humans will work alongside in harmony.

* Business will embrace a more powerful ‘purpose’.

* Productivity will increase, and it will be powered by technology

* Big Data will become bigger

* The Gig economy will gain greater traction

* The definition of workplace will change.

In the 1950s, Srivastava writes, Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to step on Mount Everest, was once on a reconnaissance expedition to the Mount Everest region. He looked toward the mighty mountain and said, “I will come again and conquer you because as a mountain, you can’t grow, but as a human, I can”.

Three years later, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay conquered Mount Everest.

“Entrepreneurial-spirited people look at intractable problems and say, I will come at you again and again till I conquer you. They do,” Srivastava concludes.

You’ve been shown the path – are you up to taking it?

(Vishnu Makhijani can be reached at vishnu.makhijani@ians.in)

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