Realizing Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

After a busy start to the year I am finally getting to some key reading I had set aside. At the top of the pile was a timely white paper from the World Economic Forum entitled Realizing Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, An Agenda for Leaders to Shape the Future of Education, Gender and Work.

As colleagues will know SIO has very deliberately re-positioned itself in recent times to focus on three strategic priorities; Connecting Leaders, Developing the Workforce and Promoting our Industry (a key strand of the financial services sector). In doing so we are seeking to equip colleagues at all levels of our organisations with tools, insights and networks to help them navigate through an uncertain future. 

I took some quiet comfort then when I read in the report that workers will need to dynamically re-skill throughout their working lives and that by extension, up-skilling of whole workforces will be required on an ongoing basis. The Economist print edition of 14th January (Cognition Switch) agrees; "lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative". None of this should be news to us but are we moving at the same pace as the change around us? Are we committing the investment required to stay ahead?

The WEF report draws particular attention to what workers will need to develop in addition to their existing skills (which are a given). All roles will require "breadth and depth of subject knowledge and the ability to make inter-disciplinary connections, developing global citizenship values, including empathy and character; non-cogitative employability skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, project management and creativity".

In financial services and far beyond we are living through a time of great disruption. The drivers will be of no surprise - innovation in tech which is re-writing business models, geopolitical instability and globalisation. The capabilities outlined above will be essential for leading us through this period.

Failure to grasp the opportunity to up-skill in the face of such change could have real consequences. It falls to us as individuals to take responsibility for our development and consider how we position ourselves for the future. That begins with a strong sense of self and an honest assessment of where our strengths lie and where we need to develop.

I for one am hugely excited by the opportunity to help shape the future.