Welcome to this year’s CAT A topic: Industry 4.0: Where to from here? While delving into the realm of Industry 4.0 might initially feel like uncharted territory for many of us, the topic is an exciting invitation to explore thoughts, ideas, history, mindsets and predictions that may well have a significant impact on our future–and certainly on the future of those we teach.

The concept of the 4th Industrial Revolution refers to the ongoing transformation of manufacturing and industrial practices, characterised by the integration of digital technologies, artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT) into various sectors, leading to societal, economic, and cultural shifts.

Reflecting on the words of Yuval Noah Harari, author of Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, we acknowledge the uncertainty that surrounds the future: “Nobody really knows what the job market, the family or the ecology will look like in 2050, or which religions, economic systems and political structures will dominate the world.”1

Despite this uncertainty, there is much we can do and are already doing to help our students deal with the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world that we inhabit.

Gaining a broader perspective

We can look to the past to better understand the industrial revolutions that have taken place and how they affected the population at the time. By gaining a broader perspective, we can help our students see that each revolution brought advantages and disadvantages. In much the same way, the 4th Industrial Revolution and those that follow will also provide opportunities and challenges. How we respond is up to us!

“A new era has begun, loaded with hazard if we fail to respond, charged with promise if we seize the moment. Whether the systems that emerge from this rupture are better or worse than the current dispensation depends on our ability to tell a new story, a story that learns from the past, places us in the present and guides the future.”2

George Monbiot, writer known for his environmental and political activism.


Revolution: a sudden, radical, or complete change.3 Dispensation: a general state or ordering of things specifically: a system of revealed commands and promises regulating human affairs.4


Volatile: Change is unpredictable, exponential and involves risk.
Uncertain: The future is unpredictable.
Complex: Many interconnected factors are at play causingconfusion.
Ambiguous: There is not always a clear-cut answer to a situation.

Developing skills to succeed in a 4 IR world

Beyond looking to the past, we can also focus on developing skills that will be beneficial and sought after in the future regardless of how that future unfolds. Lifelong learning for example enables those who have mastered this skill to adapt as situations unfold. This means that they are resilient even in the face of a job loss or a market change. They’re able to make creative connections between their skills and the skills required for jobs they would like to pursue. Lifelong learning also results in a truly unique set of skills accrued over time.
The Achieve Careers syllabus and Life Orientation as a subject explores future-fit skills in great depth. Lifelong learning – Problem-solving – Ethical leadership – EQ (incl. cultural and social intelligence) –Digital literacy & tech savviness (a basic understanding) – Critical thinking – Creativity – Adaptability –Communication (courageous conversations). These are skills that we can develop and use to our advantage in this VUCA world.

What might the challenges look like?

The 4th Industrial Revolution brings with it much apprehension including alarmist narratives of artificial intelligence (AI) “taking over the world”. Other concerns such as increased inequality may well come intoplay. As with previous revolutions, there will be many complex challenges and problems to solve. Studies show that Gen Z is the most well-educated, most racially and ethnically diverse and socially and environmentally conscious generation.5 They will want jobs that help to create a diverse, safe, healthy and clean world.6

As time progresses, we need to foster a nuanced understanding of the 4th Industrial Revolution and its potential impacts on society, economy, and culture. If you are looking for a South Africa and Africa focused resource, we can recommend Closing the Gap by Tshilidzi Marwala. As an artificial intelligence engineer, a computer scientist, a mechanical engineer and a university administrator, he is well placed to provide insights and a perspective focused on Africa.

We hope that you have a truly inspired year with your students as you look into the CAT A topic further.

“Change is neither good nor bad, it simply is.”
Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigerian statesman and the first President of Nigeria.


What Is Industry 4.0 And What Does It Mean For You? (2.10)




  1. Harari, Y. (2015) Home Deus A Brief History of Tomorrow. Vintage.
  2. Monbiot, G. (2017) Out of the Wreckage, A New Politics for an Age of Crisis. Verso.
  3. Merriam Webster. Revolution, [Online] Available here [13 Feb 2024].
  4. Merriam Webster. Dispensation, [Online] Available here [13 Feb 2024].
  5. Parker, K. (2019) Generation Z Looks A Lot Like Millennials on Key Social and Political Issues, Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project. [Online], Available here [7 Feb 2024].
  6. World Economic Forum, 2017. What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?Available here [5 Feb 2024]. Website: www.weforum.org

If you are using the Achieve Careers LO Programme, the following information and activities are recommended:

• GR 10 LO Manual – Module 3 (Skills Development)
• GR 10 LO Manual – Module 5 (Career Research)
• GR 11 LO Manual – Module 4 & 5 (Career Research & Critical Thinking)
• RAK: GR 9 LO Manual – Module 3 (Community Responsibility)
• Social Justice: GR 10 LO Manual – Module 2 (Community Service)
• Suicide Prevention: GR 9 LO Manual – Module 2 (EQ: Mental Health and Mindfulness)
• Teacher’s Flash Drive – LO Resources – folder on Careers and Critical Thinking

Share This Post
This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Please accept to continue or refer to Terms of Use here.