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After sitting through an impressive presentation on automation and smart manufacturing I was feeling very 21st century.

I mean the Prime Minister had just established an Industry 4.0 Taskforce and I was on my way back to the office watching videos on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and marvelling at the wonders of Google’s new AI assistant, Duplex.

If you don’t know about Duplex, its a robotic assistant that can book your appointments using a ‘human voice’ and can actually engage in a regular conversation.

Yes finally, we are entering an age where we cannot tell the difference between humans and robots. It’s all very exciting stuff.

Well that is, until I returned to the office to discover that there is a huge disconnect between Industry 4.0 and Generation Z (I am referring to those born in the year 2001).

Figures show that Gen Z will comprise 32 per cent of the global population of 7.7 billion in 2019, nudging ahead of millennials, who will account for 31.5 per cent. (By the way don’t add up the percentages its a sad reminder for baby boomers and Gen Xer’s that we are fading fast).

The fact is its Gen Z that will be turning 18 next year, entering university, voting for the first time, doing all the things that are of little interest to a Gen X’er like myself.

But what is of interest is the fact that so many in this generation are struggling with basic literacy and numeracy.

It seems pointless talking about Industry 4.0 if we cannot deal with the basics.

Employer body, the Ai Group, surveyed its members recently only to find that 75 per cent of employers are reporting skill shortages and 99 per cent are impacted by low levels of literacy and numeracy.

This is the disconnect I am referring to...how has this happened? After reading the results of this survey (turn to page 42) I stopped marvelling at the joys of technology and began wondering about today’s education system.

It has been many years since I attended school and I am certainly no expert but how do so many school leavers enter the workforce without basic numeracy and literacy skills? Even more astounding, how does this happen in a first world country that considers itself to be relatively well educated?

As robots become more sophisticated, it seems some humans are being left behind. Surely it is smarter for all of us to deal with this disconnect, isn’t that the humane thing to do?

Our next edition of the magazine is February 2019. In the meantime, happy holidays.

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