Decrypting future of work with the advent of emerging technologies

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution 4.0, its impact assessment has been a cause celebre. The Dialogue, a Delhi based technology policy think-tank in partnership with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung conducted sectoral studies which analyses the penetration and consequent implications of Industrial Revolution 4.0 on the Automobile and IT/ITes sectors in India.

The Launch of this Primary Qualitative Research was complemented with a Focused Group Discussion on ‘Impact of Industrial Revolution 4.0 on the Automotive and IT Sector’ on the 21st August, at the Constitution Club of India.

The reports, authored by Kazim Rizvi (Founder, The Dialogue) and Pranav Bhaskar Tiwari (Policy Research Associate, The Dialogue), lay out the key stakeholders, contextualizes the work in the sectors and co-relates it with the factors driving the change in work in therein. The report undertakes a task-based-approach wherein each job was divided into tasks. This enabled the researchers to understand exactly which task has been automated with which Industry 4.0 technologies and whether that lead to an overall job loss or job displacement.

The report summarizes the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the country, industry, and individuals and concludes with policy recommendations. The report also threw light on the Impact of Electric mobility goals of the government of India on the jobs in the Automotive sector.

Kazim Rizvi said:

Our focus has been to understand the nature of jobs displacement that is taking place due to the advent of emerging technologies. The nature of tasks will evolve and this will be reflected in the creation of new jobs, for which we need to prepare our people and drive rigorous skilling programes.”        

Industry Experts and Government Officials echoed the views of Professor Santosh Mehrotra (Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University) who said:

“There is a need for sustained effort and robust policy for driving the Automotive Sector of India in the wake of Industrial Revolution 4.0”

Policy recommendations to the effect of scaling such sustained efforts were welcomed by stakeholders in the discussion. The stakeholders pointed out that for joint skilling efforts there is a need for setting standard per Bureau of Indian Standards. Zeroing in on standards is a major time-consuming task. The congregation discussed the performance of the Sectoral Skills Councils and how academia and the industry are initiating efforts to resurrect the Councils for meeting the needs of the Industrial Revolution 4.0.

The discussion also pointed out that progressive labor laws, which are in line with both the protection of workforce and industry requirements, are needed. These laws, in turn, should be aligned with the requirements of the Industrial Revolution 4.0

The report recommended revamping our education by strengthening STEM education and investing in Primary Education. In Higher Education, more institutions need to adopt practices like that in IIT Delhi is pioneering wherein Ph.D. students are given a chance to convert their thesis into start-ups.

The report concluded that the Industrial Revolution 4.0 has failed to fulfill the promise of rendering the Industry more gender-neutral. The primary analysis at workshops showed that women are still restricted to management and sales division.

“Technology is neither good nor bad, but to unlock its true potential it has to serve a larger purpose: a social innovation that truly serves as many people as possible.”

Patrick Ruether, Country Representative and Head of Office, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, India Office

The reports and the discussion closed on a positive note with the notion that Industrial Revolution 4.0, as the past Industrial Revolutions, is likely to create more jobs rather than reducing them given that the Government and the Industry make sustained skilling effort to tap the demographic dividend that India has to its command.

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