The Fourth Industrial Revolution: An Empowerment Revolution

Many of the Industrial Revolutions delivered enslavement for many and empowerment for the few. This 4th Industrial Revolution shows many signs of going the same way. But looking at these technologies through an empowerment lens, the 4IR has a greater potential for real empowerment than all the others, if we create it that way. So many of these new technologies are, or can be made to be, a source of great empowerment for the many not just the few.

Here are a few approaches to consider:
1) Create real-world challenges
Studies show that girls lose interest in STEM in middle school. Yet, middle school is the ideal time for students to explore their passion and think about future careers.
Businesses can partner with schools to create experiences such as robotics education competitions and other events that spark students’ curiosity and exploration in STEM subjects.

2) Widen access to robotics education in rural communities
By creating mobile learning units — trailers equipped with robotic playing fields, game elements, monitors, computers and other electronics — schools in remote locations can easily set up their own robotic competitions.
This experience includes training teachers on the fundamentals of robotics with personal coaches and ongoing support for teachers through video and online materials. Businesses can support this mobile learning through school district grants.

3) Create mentoring programmes
According to Million Women Mentors, girls with a mentor are two and a half times more likely to be confident in their ability to succeed in school and at work.
It is reported that employees who volunteer for these types of roles in their communities are more likely to become more engaged at work. Businesses can create employee STEM mentoring programmes.

4) Support programmes that teach critical workplace skills
Employers need workers competent in four areas: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creative problem solving.
Businesses can support students by partnering with schools to create experiential learning opportunities — in and out of the classroom — that build and measure students’ capabilities in these areas.

In the end the catalyst for this Empowerment Revolution must be a new approach to policy, research and industry strategy.

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