The disruption caused by “industry 4.0” and everything that comes with it – IoT, automation, artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing etc – was high on the agenda, and it was made very clear that if businesses want to truly embrace the possibilities of tomorrow, they need to put their people at the centre of it today.
Keynote speaker Jenn Gustetic (from the Harvard Kennedy School) talked about the ‘digitisation’ of occupations. She claimed that industry 4.0 was not an ‘end of the world’ scenario, despite what you might see and read in the media, and it could in fact be the complete opposite because humans and AI work better together, not as separate entities; in other words new technology can enhance human innovation and problem-solving skills, not eliminate them.
Following on from Jenn’s keynote, a seminar on the Future of Work was attended by several speakers from various sectors in Scotland. As if to purposefully reinforce Jenn’s message, Kirsty Wainwright from Glenmorangie discussed the importance of work-based learning in their organisation, highlighting that despite (or because of) embracing new technology and automation, they are still growing their staff by another 12 apprentices this year.
We also saw a session hosted by Venture Jam where three groups of school children pitched their innovate concepts to reduce food waste. During the process they learnt about the impact of food waste, all while developing vital meta-skills for the future - creativity, communication, collaboration. team working, curiosity and sense-making skills all came into play as they developed their concepts and prototypes.
And those very same meta-skills are as important to adults as they are to kids, according to both Stephen Ingledew of Fintech Scotland and Melinda Matthews of Codeclan. Stephen reinforced the key messages about non-technical talent that he had already highlighted in our exclusive interview with him, while Melinda said that their highly technical and immersive courses also include meta-skill development as well.
All in all it was a great event, and we took great comfort from the fact that the “innovation journey” has to have humans at the very core of it all, and work-based learning has a huge role to play in maintaining that very necessary human future of work.