The 4th Industrial Revolution and Why Workforce Investment Boards are Critical to Local Prosperity
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The 4th Industrial Revolution and Why Workforce Investment Boards are Critical to Local Prosperity

There is a shift sweeping through our nation and there is no denying that business models and economies are changing at an exponential rate. From self-driving cars to Artificial Intelligence, Uber to Air BnB, we are on the cusp of the most transformative time in the history of Humanity.

(Ok, so I know that it might be easy to dismiss this kind of talk as “Overblown.”Out there”. “CRAZY.”)

But before you tune out, think about this: President Obama recently warned Congress that robots are going to begin taking over jobs that pay less than $20 an hour, and a 2016 World Bank report shows developing countries could have as much as 84% of jobs replaced by robots. Executives from Alphabet (Googles Parent Company) met with Senate Leaders just a few weeks back to fast track laws around self-driving cars; technology that could impact millions of jobs in every industry from trucking to transportation.  The Red Cross has already called for limits on the use of Autonomous Killer Robots by nations around the globe.

You’d be forgiven for thinking these are plot lines from the next summer blockbuster movie. “A plucky Subaru Forester becomes self aware and hits the road looking for his father in “BEEP!”” or maybe “Roomba, the story of robot vacuum cleaner that accidentally sucks up the family cat and is sent out on its own to make it in the Big Apple”.  All joking aside, these stories are ripped straight from today’s headlines. Science Fiction is quickly becoming Science Fact.

Some are calling this “The Second Machine Age”. I really like how Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, put it at the World Economic Forum in Davos a few months ago. We are without a doubt, entering the beginning of the “4th Industrial Revolution”.

So what  does this mean for us? Well, the same way we were forced to rethink society in response to the first Industrial Revolution, we’ll have to do much the same this time around. Except this time it’s going to happen a heck of a lot faster. No one has the answer but everyone is looking for a plan. Can small communities come up with that plan? I can assure you, the answer to that question is a resounding YES!

But it’s going to take some swift action and a rethinking of everything from education to training which puts Workforce Investment Boards directly at the front lines. We at the Fortress Initiative have had the chance to partner with local and forward-thinking organizations that have been willing to think outside the box, face the future head on and focus on turning these challenges into opportunities for communities across Central Pennsylvania. Recently we had the honor of teaming up with SCPa Works and MANTEC on the TechHire Initiative. This is an initiative started by the White House last year to help prepare communities to rapidly train a workforce for the jobs of the future. In fact, our partnership was singled out by President Obama a few weeks back as an example of a forward-thinking STEM initiative at the 6th Annual White House Science fair.

We are entering a time of unparalleled challenge,and with these incredible challenges come incredible opportunities. But these opportunities must be available to everyone if our businesses, communities and nation are to survive. We’ve been fortunate enough to have partners like the SCPa Works and MANTEC, partners who understand that strategic partnerships with industry, education, community organizations, and business-led workforce boards are the only way to build and sustain our local economies through this transitional time; That it’s not enough to focus on just one group, but that we must look to train and empower all of our citizens regardless of socioeconomic status, race, gender, or background. Partners who know a plan that does not include every member of our community is an incomplete plan.

I get a chance to talk a lot about these challenges all over the United States, but I like to always come back to some core principles. As much as I’d like to take credit for these, I’m was lucky enough to live in a town that has a history; a history of stepping up when others didn’t have an answer. In fact, my home city actually saved the world! 

If you’d like to learn more about these core principles and the plan that saved the world you can watch the video below but in the meantime……

Share, comment, ponder, but as always,

Embrace Change, Embrace Challenge and more than anything, Embrace Disruption,


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