South Korea is underprepared for Fourth Industrial Revolution

Posted on : 2016-08-16 17:14 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Fourth Industrial Revolution will likely mean many workers replaced by machines, as well as lower production and distribution costs
UBS report
UBS report

South Korea is underprepared at a national level for the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” a new study suggests.

The Hyundai Research Institute (HRI) published a report on Aug. 15 titled “The Arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Its Implications.” In it, South Korea was listed as ranking just 25th in the Swiss investment bank UBS’s rating of the countries most capable of adapting to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, from a white paper released during the World Economic Forum.

Top-ranked countries included Switzerland in first place, the US in fifth, Japan in 12th, and Germany in 13th. China came in 28th. Rankings considered five categories: labor structure flexibility, skill level, educational and adaptive skill, infrastructure suitability, and legal protections.

The term “Fourth Industrial Revolution” refers to an age of technological revolution rooted in the IT-centered Third Industrial Revolution, where boundaries between fields like digital technology, biology, and physics dissolve and mutual convergence is achieved. An example may be the combination of 3D printing with genetic engineering technology to develop printing methods for body tissues.

Based on an analysis of listed companies in South Korea, Germany, Japan, the US, China, and other countries, the report concluded that the growth rate for Fourth Industrial Revolution-related industries was higher than for other industries. It identified six related areas: capital goods, pharmaceuticals and bioengineering, semiconductors and semiconductor equipment, software and services, technological hardware and equipment, and communication services.

The report predicted the Fourth Industrial Revolution would contribute to increasing income and quality of life by lowering production and distribution costs. But it also foresaw a negative impact, including a potential collapse in the labor market as more workers are replaced by machines. It further predicted a strong likelihood of the middle class shrinking as the divide grows between high-tech, high-income and low-tech, low-income work.

“What we need are efforts to predict change that take the Fourth Industrial Revolution into account when formulating a medium- to long-term vision or strategy,” said HRI researcher Jeong Min.

By Lee Choong-sin, staff reporter

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