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Industrial revolution 4.0 and disruptive learning- Learning {re}Imagined

Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology of South Africa
Date: 22 October 2018


Industrial revolution 4.0 and disruptive learning- Learning {re}Imagined


Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock (1970) posited, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”.

Toffler wasn’t suggesting that reading and writing would become unimportant; he was emphasizing that in times of rapid change in an uncertain future the most valuable skill would be learning how to learn rather than simply reciting a set of facts and procedures.

The next industrial revolution promises much development and creativity in the areas of learning and development.

This includes both how it is achieved but also what it needs to address (approach and content).  A few key principles of L&D, however, remain consistent:


  • For corporate leaders, what the L&D strategy and approach, needs to achieve must be linked to business strategy. The key, however, is not just about what initiatives to push but rather what shifts in behaviour these will achieve and how these new behaviours will push the business toward excellence.
  • A 2018 international Deloitte survey found that so-called ‘soft skills’ will become a critical future priority and more than 80% of the respondents indicated that Generation Z is increasingly tech savvy but may lack the soft skills required in a digital world.
  • Employee development remains a key benefit and retention tool but needs to be more learner-centric as opposed to content centric
  • A LinkedIn study found ‘learning-on-demand’ to be essential as the biggest challenge respondents found in L&D was making time for training and development- we need to take learning to where people are.

The discourse is open to engage on some of the key questions:


  • Will humans be better than machines in creative endeavours, social interaction and physical dexterity and mobility?
  • What opportunities exist for how we educate and develop?
  • How do we apply design thinking to the flow of work- instructional and experiential design?
  • What are the key features of a future-ready education ecosystem?
  • Mental strain on employees- What ethical considerations are to be highlighted?

Comments are welcomed and contributions can be sent to cleo@siopsa.org.za. Better yet, submit an abstract or paper to share your insights on this topic at the 21st  Annual SIOPSA conference.

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