Professor Klaus Schwab: There Is a Lack of Skills, Not Jobs

Important | 2017-10-24

The fourth industrial revolution is no more a distant future – with every new technology and every innovation society is transforming. We are stepping into the territory where everything, starting from job relationships and extending into everyday activities, is different from what we knew ten, and even five years ago.

“The fourth industrial revolution will completely change how we produce things, how we communicate, how we live. It is not any one product, but a whole range of them. If I had to define Industry 4.0 in one sentence I would say that this is an integration of physical, biological and technological experience”, said Professor Klaus Schwab, while visiting Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) earlier this month.

During his open lecture to the University students and the academic community, the Founder and the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Professor Schwab encouraged the audience to stay optimistic about the future.

“People are worrying about losing jobs for technologies. We cannot say for sure what will happen to millions of cashiers, drivers or even teachers, who might be replaced by artificial intelligence. Yet, I encourage all to concentrate on the skills needed in the future instead. There is a research done indicating that the number of open jobs today is equal to the amount of jobseekers. It is skills issue, not necessarily lack of jobs we are facing”, said Professor Schwab.

The new sector of jobs will appear

According to the renowned thinker and scholar, who is exploring his ideas on Industry 4.0 in his latest book “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”, every industrial revolution in the world history had not only caused the loss of some jobs, but also created new positions and possibilities.

“After the first industrial revolution the whole service sector, which was inexistent before, was created. I believe that we will see this happening once again. In my opinion, this new sector will be social entrepreneurship, which is related to social processes and relies on creativity”, said Klaus Schwab.

Together with his wife Hilde they have created a special foundation to support social entrepreneurship, which today has 350 members. The foundation supports young entrepreneurs, who create innovations meant not necessarily to make money, but to help people.

Hierarchy in organisations is no more valid

Professor Klaus Schwab is convinced that the new world, which we are entering today, will require new leadership skills.

“First talent needed for the new leaders of today and tomorrow is contextual intelligence – to be able to seize the ecosystem, to connect the dots. Today’s world is so much connected, that it needs to be addressed systematically”, said Professor Schwab, answering the question from the audience.

He emphasised the importance of relational intelligence, as the hierarchical structures are no longer efficient; the organisations are becoming more and more linear.

“Today we have network, not hierarchy. It means that we all are interdependent, we need to learn to create teams, and to take care of them in order to keep them”, said Klaus Schwab.

He is convinced that today it is crucial to distribute power, to work together, and to share knowledge and responsibility.

Life-long learning is a must

In his talk, Professor Schwab stressed the great significance of education. In his opinion, industrial revolution is inseparable from revolution in education; in other words: Industry 4.0 must be followed by Education 4.0.

“First of all, we have to rethink the curriculum, to determine what skills are needed for tomorrow. Although we definitely need the skills required in digitalised word, we also have to put emphasis on interpersonal skills. The second important thing is continuous studying – the knowledge obtained in universities today will expire in four-five years’ time. We need to find a way to make life-long learning a natural process; keeping our knowledge up to date is our professional duty”, said Klaus Schwab.

The Professor also admitted that despite having extensive network, most of his free time he devotes to reading, aiming to stay informed about the affairs of the world.

“You have to maintain curiosity all your life. Also, staying informed makes you more resilient. One needs to be fit both physically and psychologically, therefore I try to keep my life simple”, said Professor Schwab.

Follow the compass, but use a radar

“Be curious, be passionate about what you do, be optimistic and entrepreneurial. Also, one of my preferred words is – be agile”, wished Klaus Schwab to the KTU audience, whose majority were students.

He encouraged the young people to look for jobs and endeavours that they feel passionate about, and to concentrate on their strengths, not on threats or weaknesses.

“Once I had a teacher who said that there are two kinds of people – compass and radar people. While compass person has a goal in mind and follows it, radar people (they often are politicians) send signals to the environment and act according to the response. Earlier I encouraged all to aim to be compass people. However, now, after many years of experience my advice is – have a compass to show you direction, but also use a radar, which will help you to avoid obstacles”, finished the lecture Klaus Schwab, one of the most influential thinkers of today’s world.

Earlier this month Professor Klaus Schwab, the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum has been awarded honorary doctorate of Kaunas University of Technology. Professor Schwab is the 45th honorary doctor of KTU.