However, it also comes with not-insubstantial challenges, which will require most people to take action to ensure they future-proof their careers.
In the coming years, the world of work and education will see profound changes
“While 4IR was characterised by technology enhancing human capabilities, the 5th Industrial Revolution is predicted to centre on the harmonisation between humanity and technology,” says Dr Linda Meyer, MD of The Independent Institute of Education’s Rosebank College.
“This means understanding and leveraging technology to benefit society, focusing on well-being, sustainability, and inclusivity,” adds Meyer.
She says that in the coming years, the world of work and education will see profound changes.
“We will see work being redefined as human roles evolve with AI and robotics taking on more tasks. The emphasis will shift from manual and repetitive jobs to positions that require creativity, empathy, and complex problem-solving.”
She adds that on the education front, we will see the need for systems to adapt to prepare individuals for the new world.
“This will mean a greater emphasis on critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and adaptability.”
Meyer says that over the next decade, boundaries between tech and humanity will be redefined, creating a job landscape that is fluid and ever-changing.
“Certain professions will naturally phase out as we move deeper into the 5IR era, while others will undergo significant transformations. “In this age of flux and uncertainty that lies ahead, there remain a few steps you can take to fortify your career, which will help you remain resilient regardless of your specific field,” she says.
“Adaptability is the key to thriving throughout life, specifically during times of uncertainty, and at the heart of adaptability lies continuous learning. “With the 5IR promising advancements in AI, biotech, and other fields, professionals must be willing to learn and re-learn to stay relevant,” advises Meyer.
Staying on top of the game can be done by pursuing online courses and certifications, attending workshops and conferences, and obtaining a new qualification in a growth sector.
While technology will play a pivotal role in future, human-centric skills will become invaluable. These skills include emotional intelligence, critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.
“As machines handle more tasks, human roles will focus on management, communication, and decision-making—all of which require a deep understanding of human emotions and behaviours,” she says.
The ability to assess situations, think critically, and devise solutions will be crucial, especially in scenarios where automation falls short.
“And with decentralisation a critical theme, teamwork and collaboration across diverse groups and geographies will be essential,” she adds.
The boundaries between disciplines will blur, notes Meyer. A coder might need to understand biogenetics if they're working on a biotech application, or a marketer might need to dive into AI analytics to optimise campaigns. It is, therefore, helpful to invest time in understanding the basics of disciplines that intersect with yours.
Along with new tech will come further ethical questions. Being informed about the ethical considerations in your industry can also position you as a thought leader and decision-maker.
Rather than shying away from new technological tools, engage with them through hands-on experience.“If a new software or tool is relevant to your job, learn its functionalities. This includes augmented and virtual reality tools which will become commonplace in training, meetings, and other professional scenarios.”
Jobs will evolve and roles may shift. Being flexible and open to change will be an asset. This might mean moving organisational functions, adapting to new technologies, or changing career paths.
Meyer says that being a team player who gets the job done – even if it’s a new one requiring new skills - will go a long way towards futureproofing your position.
“And finally, as everyone will be going through similar changes and transitions across roles and industries, maintaining a robust professional network will become key – to help you stay updated on industry trends, provide opportunities for collaboration, and offer potential safety nets in times of rapid change.”