By SHARON ONG
The Fourth Industrial Revolution – also known as Industry 4.0 – is indeed upon us: smart machines, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence (AI), crowdsourcing technologies, and robots being implemented across a range of industries.
Like every industrial revolution that came before, they threaten to eliminate certain jobs while creating new ones. Who are the winners and who are the losers? What does this mean for blue- and white-collared professionals in Malaysia? How can recruiters respond effectively to leverage changing criteria in talent selection?
Not surprisingly, the losers in this Fourth Industrial Revolution will be workers engaged in low-skill, low-wage jobs. Meanwhile, adaptive individuals who stay ahead of the technological curve will find themselves in increasing demand.
These are professionals that can seamlessly integrate new technologies and ideas into their daily work practices, or business leaders who can think beyond established paradigms to embrace daring, strategic ideas on implementing disruptive technologies.
Others who come out ahead would be employees that engage daily in the kind of complex decision-making and stakeholder management that AI or robots will take longer to master.
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They are not necessarily hired on a permanent basis, but may instead enjoy the flexibility of a freelancing career or be engaged on a contract basis with work-from-home options.
Hiring criteria today will need to accommodate such traits, foremost of which is the ability to interact in a meaningful way with smart technologies.
Malaysia remains a country that is short on top-tier talent. The Fourth Industrial Revolution presents both challenging and interesting times for recruiters.
The war for good talent in Malaysia will be more vicious than ever as clients compete to attract candidates with the kind of niche skills that are in demand.
At the same time, good talent is lured in droves to better-paying jobs overseas, where the impact of disruptive technologies will be felt just as much, if not more.
The challenge for recruiters therefore is identifying the perfect candidate with the right package (right skills and attitude) at the right price.
Recruitment businesses need to be able to pivot cleverly to adapt to this change in demand for certain jobs or new functions. That means hiring further up the organisational structure if one’s forte has been lower-level recruitment.
It also means keeping abreast with the latest technological developments that have serious implications for the recruitment of talent by our clients.
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Key here is the ability to respond quickly and effectively to where the demand is strongest for hard-to-find talent, carving out a market for oneself ahead of competitors, and gaining clients’ trust and confidence.
Even our jobs as recruiters may be phased out eventually by sophisticated skills or keyword-matching software that accurately and instantly identifies the right talent pool.
Such technology may leverage the increasing connectivity between urban professionals as more and more candidates are connected to job portals and professional networking platforms.
As such, investing in targeted advertising online or building job search mobile apps will help reach and attract the right talent, given the amount of time we all spend on our phones today.
The ability to evolve one’s value offering to remain relevant in new business landscapes may well prove to be a uniquely human attribute.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will challenge us with uncertain times; it may eventually render obsolete the jobs of real estate agents, drivers, and accountants.
But with more connectivity, more crowdsourcing, and smarter technologies comes a near future that tingles optimistically of higher productivity, greater efficiency, more collaboration, and hopefully a better quality of life.