What IT skills are required for the fourth industrial revolution?

What IT skills are required for the fourth industrial revolution?

The robotic revolution beckons, but more skills are needed in Australia to meet its demands.

As the fourth industrial revolution looms, a new generation of workplace robots has led to an increase in the demand for IT professionals or ‘robot creators’ with niche skills and qualifications, according to recruitment firm, Hays.

The company identified that although the full extent of the fourth industrial revolution is yet to be known, one thing it knows for certain is that the impact on IT infrastructure and departments will be huge and will require the support of niche IT experts.

The fourth industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, is a term used to describe the trend of digitisation and automation.

It's an important part of Australia’s economic future, with the Federal Government setting up the Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 taskforce, aimed at helping the country transition to a “new economy”.

ARN reported, in October last year, that South Australia government was forking out for innovation in Industry 4.0, pumping $10 million into autonomous car technology, tapping into an industry it believes will be worth $90 billion globally by 2030.

“Transforming the South Australian economy depends on our ability to adopt new ways of doing things, using advanced technologies to build globally competitive, high-value firms and sustainable, well-paid jobs,” the state’s government said in a statement then.

ARN reported, in January last year, that although the fourth industrial revolution is under way and could lead to the loss of more than seven million jobs over the next few years, it also should add jobs in the fields of computer science, math and engineering.

Hays said these include the following:
  • Robot programmers – It is the role of a robot programmer to create tailored code to enable the machine to execute its tasks efficiently and effectively. As well as a relevant degree and extensive training, robot programmers require people skills to liaise with clients so they can customise each machine to perform its desired function.
  • Robotics engineers – Robotics engineers combine skills from a range of engineering disciplines in order to design, build and maintain complex robotic machines. They are typically qualified to degree level in either electrical, manufacturing, industrial, electronic or mechanical engineering.
  • Senior engineers – Educated to at least degree level, they are likely to have specialist postgraduate qualifications in cybernetics and systems science research.
  • Machine learning engineers – This role focuses on enabling computer technology to acquire intelligence in addition to that contained within its programming. Requiring skills beyond traditional computer science and programming, machine learning engineers need a solid understanding of probability and statistics as well as data modelling and evaluation.
  • Various technicians – A multitude of technicians provide support and specialist expertise typically gained through hands-on apprenticeship schemes and classroom instruction.
Hays chief information officer, Steve Weston, said organisations need to prepare by ensuring their IT infrastructure is fit for purpose and they have the necessary skills at their disposal.

“It’s important to realise that while automation is here to stay, it won’t happen overnight. Even so, we mustn’t rest on our laurels. These new technologies will demand different skills from our IT teams and create new jobs,” he said.

He added that roles and sectors which have traditionally not featured any automation are now seeing robotics become part of the process, ranging from fruit picking to health care.

One area where Hays expects to see many big changes over the next decade is the automotive industry, as self-driving cars are introduced and new technology is incorporated into vehicles, further supporting the South Australia government’s investment into this space.

Late last year, MYOB also addressed the new rules of surviving technological change in its Future of Business: 25 years into the future report.

“We’ve entered a period in which technology development is no longer craft and creation, but aggressive evolution,” MYOB chief technical advisor and futurist, Simon Raik-Allen, said at the time.

“And just like in evolution, which is driven not just by steady growth but by pressure points, we are seeing a period of hyper development.

"As in the natural system, in business this will reward the agile, the nimble and the adaptable, and weed out the slow and the resistant to change,” he said.

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