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Human Resource Management and 4IR – Is there a future for HR professionals?

Authored by: Maria Windell 

We cannot deny the buzz around the 4th Industrial Revolution and how it affects the way we work and live. Technology has become an integral part of our daily routines, and sometimes we don’t comprehend how much we depend on technology to function in any organization. Usually, one would not put emerging technologies and Human Resource Management in the same sentence as we have this preconceived notion that those two concepts are not intertwined. However, machine learning and Artificial intelligence have penetrated our organizations and we have to adapt in order for our companies to transcend (Pienaar, 2020). Here is where the saying, “Adapt or die” comes into play. Organizations and their employees need to drastically change their mindsets and embrace the new era we are introduced to. The digital era is changing the way HR interacts with various parties of the organization, thus, transforming their roles into management and developmental roles (SACAP, 2020) which makes them even more crucial to the organization’s success (Dhanpat, Buthelezi, Joe, Maphela, & Shongwe, 2020).

The 4th Industrial Revolution brings challenges and opportunities to each and every organization. The unfavorable part of 4IR is that paper-based formats are becoming redundant and employees are losing their jobs because they no longer have the necessary skills to survive in this fast-paced digitized era (Pienaar, 2020). This revolution can also be deceptive, disruptive, dematerialized, and demonetized since it gives a sense of bewilderment to the role of HR professionals. However, on a more positive note, 4IR is revolutionizing the way we, as employees, search for jobs, and how we, as employers, attract the best suitable candidates for any position. We have an opportunity to reinvent our value chains, business- and operational models as well as our approach to customer relations (SABPP, 2020).

4IR has also blurred the barriers of what people and technology can achieve when they are interrelated (Ramirez, 2020). We have no limitations where communication is concerned, interviews can be conducted over video calls, employees can work remotely and how we conduct performance appraisals has changed significantly. The real challenge now is people management and not job retention (Pienaar, 2020), so we have to focus on exceptional leadership capabilities, managing integration between humans and machines, fostering learning cultures in organizations, and valuing human capital (Ramirez, 2020).

Pienaar (2020) predicts “the rise of ‘super jobs’, combining jobs that were previously separate and augmenting them with technology. These hybrid jobs will include combining hard skills like coding and data analysis with human skills like communication, collaboration, and curiosity.” This shifts the focus to a learning culture, where employees have the necessary resources to upskill themselves through platforms like Udemy, O’Reilly, and LinkedIn Learning.

To conclude, the Human Resource Professionals’ roles have not become obsolete, on the contrary, we have the opportunity to enhance the labor force’s capabilities to create our own ‘super employee’. This will produce more augmented organizations in terms of innovation, productivity, customer service, and human-machine capabilities.

How CTU is aligning itself with the 4IR – Human Resource Management

According to the South African College of Applied Psychology (2020), HR Educational Programmes need to focus on the following key aspects in order to be prosperous in this new era.

The first aspect will be to demonstrate 4IR HR attributes in the learners. Skills such as leadership, resilience, professionalism, and self-confidence will be incorporated into the programme and will develop with experience and practice. Secondly, we have to become 4IR business savvy. We have to foster an environment where entrepreneurial thinking is praised and not denounced, and where they have a holistic understanding of the world of business. Thirdly, we have to ensure our learners grow in a 4IR context, which focuses on contextualized learning, whereby theory and practical, real-world context unite (Andriotis, 2017). Lastly, and the most imperative aspect, the learners need to develop 4IR digital expertise. The learners need to become familiarized with the different applications, systems, and programmes and receive actual exposure by working with them. These learners will emerge as self-assured HR professionals who understand the systems, and it won’t seem as intimidating as it used to.

CTU strives for an exceptional educational experience in all the fields that we provide, and we want our learners to excel in life after CTU. This means introducing capable and skilled professionals to the workforce. By following the research and where the 4IR trend is going, we will aim to equip our learners to be prepared for anything 4IR launches in their direction.


Andriotis, N. (2017). Contextualized Learning: Teaching made highly effective! Retrieved from Efront:

Dhanpat, N., Buthelezi, Z. P., Joe, M. R., Maphela, T. V., & Shongwe, N. (2020). Industry 4.0: The role of human resource professionals. SA Journal of Human Resource Management.

Pienaar, M. (2020, November 2). What does the fourth industrial revolution mean for HR? Retrieved from Defend Truth:

Ramirez, J. C. (2020, January 10). Fourth Industrial Revolution brings challenge and opportunity. Retrieved from Human Resource Executive:

SABPP, S. A. (2020). SABPP Fact Sheet. SABPP.

SACAP, S. A. (2020, May 28). How 4IR Is Changing The Teaching And Practice Of HR. Retrieved from The Skills Portal: