In the clasp of the novel pandemic, it feels being engulfed in a mesh of sly and ruthlessness. Every day, real and fake news of the virus’ conquests toughen the strands of the mesh, making it less porous. Harder to breathe. Massive millions are literally struggling to get their lungs working. Nearly three hundred thousand have ceased to need lungs. Heartbreaking. Scary. Humbling.


The challenge for the living are manifold. Health and wealth is now the correct order of concern. People used to put the ‘W’ before the ‘H’. That is, whatever left, that were not drained by this ‘evil disease,’ as China’s numero uno, Xi Jinping calls it. But it’s like a rolling deficit. The trail of destruction is still fluid. Depending on which of the two directions you are looking, the scenario is similar, although not equal. If you look East it is gloom. If you look West, it feels like doom. And no one seems to have the answer to the question, “When can we eliminate this unseen evil that is eliminating us?”

WHO is having Tantrumps

In fact, the world health body which is chartered to help us keep our body healthy has given up a bit. They are publicly saying that the virus might be a long term guest, and maybe here to stay. In a sense it is comforting. It’s like, you can’t complain getting pummeled by this guy if Muhammad Ali couldn’t out float him. W.H.O. sounds like the go to temple for health now. But the walls are getting crumbly. What with the tantrumps from White House and cringe worthy echoes of some normally proud and respectable adults who are actually free to be individuals. But prefer to be shackled by imaginary friendship and protection. Sometimes, I hear balls being lifted.

Personally, I have no concerns. W.H.O. might become a question mark like in “WHO?”

For us, mere mortals, the best thing to do if you are doing not much at home is to prepare for when the Officials declare that this is officially over.
It needn’t be really over. It has just to be officially over. Many world leaders are done looking just at lives, they are now focusing on livelihood too. And rightly so. We need the ability to sustain ourselves.
Sooner than later, we have to come out of the hiding. And get back to the hunt. We have to get back to work. But, will work be there for us?

Tens of millions today, specifically more than 20 million in the United States, the largest and most robust economy in the world, are most likely livid with the covid for swallowing up their jobs. Will work be there for us?

Industry 4.0 definitions and meaning of STEM

To add to the throes, the world was in momentum of adopting the massive rewiring of work, investing in the smart and disruptive technologies driving the new industrial revolution. Industry 4.0. Jobs will be sacrificed in the name of progress. Manmade heartless man will replace men (and women) in the manning of machines that need manning. As it is, a ton of jobs have been erased by the early automation initiatives. With this scheme of things and the pandemic, we might regress into a generation of ‘maybe gloomers.’

The pandemic aside, ‘soothe sayers’ think that despite the technological upheavals, more new jobs will be created than the ones taken away, pointing to the near extinction of bank tellers, being replaced by the ubiquitous ATMs. More than offset by the creation of a whole new world of online wealth creators and myriads of jobs from the possibilities of the digital technology. But will this time be different? The same question spurned lovers ask. I heard burnt investors do the same soul searching. (Totally irrelevant but liberating.)

Okay. I am going to kick the child out of the room, to seriously weigh the question of jobs and Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 , the Extreme Wiring of Work; Job Creator or Killer?

Will extreme digitization of businesses and industries churn, driving the fourth industrial revolution result in an alarming loss or whopping gain of jobs? Experts, before the pandemic, think it will take some years before they can accurately assess the impact. The earliest estimate was 2025. 2025 or 2035…what should you do now? To preserve your job or to prepare for a new one.

An excerpt from a Boston Consulting Group press release in 2015, forecasted a net increase of approximately 350,000 jobs in Germany through 2025, the sum from a loss of 610,000 jobs, and the creation of 960,000 jobs during the gestation period of Industry 4.0.

The gist of an article, “Industry 4.0 to be a huge job killer,” published in January 2016, by ‘Deutsche Welle (DW)’, Germany’s leading international broadcaster was, well, Industry 4.0 will be a huge job killer! According to DW, its source, the World Economic Forum (WEF) forecasts a net loss of over 5 million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies!

It becomes better for the appetite, if you follow Klaus Schwab, in his analogy to productivity gains of a third industrial revolution type industry over a second industrial revolution type industry. Technologies driving Industry 4.0 are expected to deliver more gains. 

According to Schwab, Silicon Valley in 2014 has higher market capitalization ($ 1.09 trillion vs. $ 36 billion), at the same level of revenues (about $ 250 billion) as Detroit in 1990, but with about 10 times fewer employees (137,000 vs. 1.2 million).

You should feel very confident with the assessment from Klaus Martin Schwab. He is a German engineer and economist and the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF). (I feel very confident I got him right. I consulted Wikipedia.)

Sometimes, we like to consult, posthumously, naturally, people who lived before us, even if the conditions were vastly different, because we value ancient wisdom. We also want to learn from history. Sometimes to avoid mistakes. Sometimes to repeat them.

If you are one of those assured by ancient wisdom, allow me to quote a snippet from ‘The Commonwealth,’ a publication of the common wealth, a group of 56 independent countries. In its article, ‘For the greater good? The loss of jobs in the digital era’ by Zoheir Ebrahim, Economic Policy and Small States Research Officer, Commonwealth Secretariat, it presented the yang-yin views of two distinguished economists of their era.

“The man vs. machine debate is centuries-old. John Maynard Keynes
 first popularized the term ‘technological unemployment’ in his 1930 essay Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren. Keynes regarded the phenomenon as a “temporary phase of maladjustment” for countries at the frontier of progress. On the other side of the debate, techno-pessimists, such as the classical economist, David Ricardo, instead, believed that the introduction of new technologies could lead to a sustained decline in working population.”

There are two sides to a coin, if it’s better for you, a credit card.  The loss-gain view depends on where you read and who is writing. I guess there is more than one way to make a forecast. However, many agree, the dust from the job loss-gain debate will not fully settle until the 2020s. Rather than agonizing on the projected loss, you should anticipate the gain. Brain scientists are sure than being hopeful makes you happier, more resourceful and have better immunity. All the good things to wait through this pandemic.

But wait, don’t just wait. Be prepared for your hope to materialize. Get upskilled. This way, your chance of getting a dream job is going to be better than a dream. As a sanity check, the world unemployment rate is still at its lower range despite the pace of the digital revolution in the last few years, if we discount the slaughter by Covid-19.

Launching of STEM program in Penang Malaysia


Upskill for the future, Embrace STEM

There is a consensus amongst experts and authorities. Those societies, cities, countries, Government and cultures that fill that lack of skills and embrace STEM learning will most likely prosper with the opportunities from the new industrial revolution. STEM is acronym for an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
“STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world “– Live Science website.
 The new world is a world of smart factories where extreme automation and big data combine to deliver even better efficiencies and lower costs than ever before.  Interdisciplinary (STEM) skills are needed to coordinate the collaborative power of computing, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) ‘Future of Jobs report’ indicates a higher demand for complex problem solving skills, social skills(coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, negotiation, persuasion, orientation, training and teaching), process skills(active listening, critical thinking, monitoring of self and others), systems skills (judgement and decision making, systems analysis) and cognitive skills (cognitive flexibility, creativity, logical reasoning, problem sensitivity, mathematical reasoning, visualization), amongst others. Generally, there will be less demand for brute physical skills.

Up your Value with STEM

United States needed almost 9 million STEM workers in 2018. In a survey it was found that STEM jobs pay better than non-STEM jobs. In the US, the average wage of all STEM occupations was $ 85,570 annually, nearly double the average for all occupations ($47,230).  The top 5 highest paying STEM jobs were Petroleum engineers ($147,520), Architectural and engineering managers ($138,720), Natural Sciences managers ($136,450), Computer and Information Systems managers ($136,280) and Physicists ($117,300).
High demand jobs were those in the computing domain. Computer networking, systems analysis and software engineering were in high demand. 
Remember the observation by experts?
Those societies, cities, countries, Government and cultures that fill that lack of skills and embrace STEM learning will most likely be the most successful in Industry 4.0.”
You are the society, city, country, Government and culture. Continue keeping yourself safe. Focus on your live and the lives of those you love. Keep an eye on the livelihood. Get upskilled for when the Officials declare that the hiding from the pandemic is officially over. Be qualified to prosper with Industry 4.0 opportunities. Wear a mask if you must. Keep your distance. But close in on getting the STEM skills you need. That is one way to come out of the pandemic better than when you got in.

A comprehensive listing of STEM jobs with Job Descriptions and Qualifications required is available at O*NET Online.
O*NET Online is an application created to provide a broad database of occupational information. It is developed for the US Department of Labor.


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