I don’t know why I recalled the famous movie “Modern Times” by genius comedian Charlie Chaplin while I was following with great interest the second edition of the World Forum for Higher Education, under the title “The Challenges of Future Jobs from a Global Perspective”. At that moment, I realized that humans became completely dependent on machines, as they feed, dress, and even clean them, despite the fact that this movie was produced in 1936.
Today, the world is actually witnessing amazing developments in all fields. The development we perceive in the industry and related science and technology was directly and quickly reflected in all aspects of life. This contributed to the creation of new patterns of culture, politics, and economy, in addition to the skills and competencies of employment and demand in the labor market. Today we live in a technological and industrial boom called the digital revolution, which includes artificial intelligence, big data analysis, robotics, and cloud computing, which foretells a dangerous stage of competition between man and machine.
The Global Forum developed important visions for a number of the most dangerous issues of concern to the labor market, whether in the Arab region or the world in general, such as how to prepare and qualify students and young researchers for future jobs, the needs of local and international labor markets in light of the repercussions of the Corona pandemic, and rapid changes in employment skills and demand on the labor market.
The Fifth Industrial Revolution, which we do not know whether it has begun or ended, is like a huge monster. Either we succeed in taming it, or it succeeds in devouring us. It is therefore necessary to tame that revolution so as to allow the return of human hands and minds to the industrial setting. This step will enhance the role of industry’s contribution to societies in terms of increasing job opportunities and using technology for the benefit of people.
Now, too, the adoption of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals to provide high-quality education is crucial to achieving thriving economies. It is also necessary to revive the culture of learning among students to evaluate the experience of acquiring new skills rather than just certificates, as well as revising the current curricula to meet future needs by paying attention to skills related to the successive industrial revolutions. This is in addition to designing customized programs to suit the needs of the labor market in the future.
Also, maximize the value of educational innovation in developing countries by using digital platforms that allow more students to learn remotely. As well as developing the capabilities of human resources and intellectual capital in institutions of higher education and scientific research through training and rapid guidance. In addition to the need to eliminate stereotypes and provide support, in the professions of science, technology, and innovation, for girls and women to work to pursue scientific careers and their requirements.
In the fifth industrial revolution in which we live, either man and machine reconcile and find ways to work together to improve the means of production and efficiency for the benefit of mankind, or man becomes mere bait for the machine and the servant of technology.
Hatem Sadek: Professor at Helwan University