Fourth industrial revolution will be led by technology, says World Economic Forum

Author: PM Editorial | Date: 20 Jan 2016

HR roles in GCC countries expected to grow, but function’s remit will evolve, according to Future of Jobs report

The world is on the brink of a “fourth industrial revolution” that will be “more comprehensive and all-encompassing than anything we have ever seen,” according to a new report from the highly influential World Economic Forum (WEF) that is optimistic about the economic outlook for the Middle East.
 
The Future of Jobs report says new technology and energy supplies will “play the largest role” in GCC countries. It points to genetics, artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and biotechnology as powerful forces in changing the nature of jobs across the world.
 
The report places HR under the umbrella category of ‘Business, Legal and Financial’, which it says employs 484,000 people in the GCC and is expected to remain stable. Positions for HR specialists in particular will grow 0.33 per cent by 2020.
 
Despite the anticipated stability in employment, there will be changes ahead for HR departments. “A repositioning of the HR function beyond a focus on systems and administration to talent development and training can help address specific roadblocks for women, in addition to better overall talent management,” says the report.
 
When asked what they believe will be the top causes of change over the coming years, more than half of GCC respondents surveyed by the WEF pointed to new energy supplies and technologies. Another popular answer was ‘mobile internet and cloud technologies’, which reinforces the report’s belief that technology will be at the forefront of changes.
 
Constraints on resources are expected to be one of the biggest barriers to change management and future workforce planning in the region. The price of a barrel of oil, which so much of the GCC’s prosperity is tied to, has fallen to its lowest level since 2003 ($27.67); and while the price is widely expected to recover, it is clearly not infallible.
 
“While the impending change holds great promise, the patterns of consumption, production and employment created by it also pose major challenges requiring proactive adaptation by corporations, governments and individuals,” says the WEF.
 
“To prevent a worst-case scenario—technological change accompanied by talent shortages, mass unemployment and growing inequality—re-skilling and up-skilling of today’s workers will be critical.”
 
There are a variety of strategies that organisations could adopt to keep up with the changes. Investing in re-skilling current employees and collaborating with educational institutions were the two most popular among respondents from the GCC.