Work is entering the age of the unknown with the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4) and according to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in 2018, five out of 10 workplace activities will be automated by 2055. It also added that 65 per cent of the children starting school today will hold jobs that don’t currently exist, while 375 million workers will need to change occupations by 2030.
Moreover, on average, one-third of today’s skills sets will be replaced in the coming years. And by 2024, roles requiring digital skills will grow by 12 per cent.
This was highlighted by Director of Trade, Investment and Innovation Design at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) Dr Mia Mikic in a public lecture titled ‘Industrial Revolution 4.0 and Inclusive Future of Work’. The lecture was held at the extension building of the Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah (PAPRSB) Institute of Health Sciences at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) on Saturday.
Dr Mikic said the Industrial Revolution 4.0 is characterised by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds; impact on all disciplines; economies and industries; and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.
The 4IR is being built upon the new and innovative technologies also known as frontier technologies. Perhaps the best known group are digital technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), automation and robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, and Additive manufacturing (3D) printing and so on.
Elaborating on AI, Dr Mikic said, “AI is used across the economy such as banking and finance, business, document management and publishing, life and medical sciences, security, telecommunications and transportation.
“Components of work in the past that will be changing in the future by AI include number of working people, nature of work (productivity, income and wellbeing of workers) and skills for future jobs.
“The role of next-generation education policies is to rethink education and skills training through lifelong learning of workers (and continuous investment) to help them accumulate and maintain skills and prepare them for future work.”
She also spoke about the ASEAN member states’ readiness to embrace IR4, where the majority is not yet ready. In terms of challenges faced include the lack of awareness by workers about reskilling benefits and opportunities; lack of funding/inability to retrain workers; lack of effective and scalable LLL models; outdated educational curricula and not following skill demands; social protection directed to jobs, not people; and protection underserving groups not participating in the workforce/employment (disabled).
In the Global Innovation Index 2019, Brunei Darussalam was at 71st place last year (2019), down by four places compared to 2018, and sixth in ASEAN after Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.
In terms of gross expenditure on research and development (R&D) and percentage in GDP, Brunei has had minimal expenditure in R&D and stagnated at 71 rank.
ASEAN member countries are also not scoring well in digital adoption index, hindering the uptake of technologies and inclusive access, which could lead to further division in the application and the adoption of a new frontier technology.
Vice-Chancellor of UBD Datin Dr Hajah Anita Binurul Zahrina binti Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Wijaya Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Aziz, and senior management officials of UBD were present.