Automation, computers communicating with each other and machines teaming up to solve problems used to be the storyline for the latest SciFi blockbuster, but as we enter Industry 4.0, it’s become everyday life.
The evolving global economy is rewriting everything we thought we knew about societal needs and humananity’s potential within the business world.
The production lines and repetitive tasks characterised by the birth and success of the Industrial Revolution are swapping over to Artificial Intelligence units and automated programmes, leaving human’s role in the economy completely redefined.
As technology moves into the mainstream in the economy, Industry 4.0 doesn’t just need workers who can obediently follow orders and diligently maximise productivity, but who also exhibit adaptability, creativity and co-operation – human skills that machines struggle to replicate.
According to a report by the European Commission, 67 percent of current employers value teamwork skills when recruiting graduate talent, with computer literacy, adaptability, analytical and problem-solving expertise also being viewed as very important.
And graduates must be prepared for shifts in the production side of the economy as changing consumer demands rewrite the rulebook for production. As consumers accept responsibility for the things they buy, pressure is put on corporations, start-ups and individual workers to make ethical decisions in their actions.
To succeed in Industry 4.0, graduates must be prepared to cultivate and exhibit this integral adaptability, swimming in the flow of the evolving economy to avoid being left behind the inevitable current regardless of the role, industry or country they envisage themselves working in.
After all, an estimated 85 percent of jobs that will exist in 2030 have not yet been created, according to Dell, meaning the ability to communicate effectively with others, work as both a team player and a leader and exhibit the creative awareness to find alternative solutions will serve graduates better than a niche specialisation ever will.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is committed to preparing students to enter this ever-changing economy, refining the characteristics needed to adjust alongside the assured technological evolution.
Understanding that industry-focused degrees that reflect changes in the field are not enough for students to fulfil their potential in Industry 4.0, students are also required to complete workplace placements, giving them teamwork skills, problem-solving capabilities and the resilience to adapt to whatever challenges they encounter.
The university exposes students to recruitment events, industry talks and sharing sessions from fresh graduates and alumni throughout their academic programmes, inspiring students to see the possibilities beyond their degree and cultivate their skillsets for life beyond graduation.
Students also have the opportunity to gain industry experience in a real-world setting alongside the academic programme, through the Work Integrated Education (WIE) scheme. By immersing learners in life after graduation and giving them workplace skills crucial to succeeding in the global economy, students leave prepared to fulfil their career goals and unleash their professional potential.
Lazzat Baitoksan, Accounting and Finance student from Kazakhstan, said her internship experience helped her become adaptable and learn new skills.
“I never knew that I could be so flexible. Although I interned at an auditing firm, I had to integrate all my knowledge in business administration as various tasks required my knowledge in marketing and customer service,” she says.
“Sometimes I also had to write articles, prepare presentations, record audio script for the company’s promotion videos and meet with company clients and suppliers. All of these tasks required different skills, so I had to adjust myself to them. I had to be flexible and just be confident to face challenges every day.”
While she admits this wasn’t always easy, Baitoksan values the experience for preparing her for a career in finance, where things are always changing.
“I like challenge and I like to see whether my prediction, supported with research and studies, will become real or not. I was fascinated by simply watching my supervisor working on Bloomberg and consulting the clients about their investment portfolios.”
Collaborating with industry-leading partners in a range of fields, PolyU allows students to complete their WIE placement in the dynamic city of Hong Kong, further afield in China or even overseas. This gives students the ability to gain international experience crucial in today’s globalised economy.
With international exposure, real-world experience in industry and a degree that’s constantly fine-tuned to reflect changing needs in the field, students at PolyU graduate with highly sought-after aligned to Industry 4.0.
This competitive edge propels graduates from PolyU ahead of their peers in the graduate market, helping them kickstart their careers and adapt over the years.