Training and Preparing Tomorrow’s Workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Michael Max Bühler, Thorsten Jelinek, Konrad Nübel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We call for a paradigm shift in engineering education. We are entering the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (“4IR”), accelerated by Artificial Intelligence (“AI”). Disruptive changes affect all industrial sectors and society, leading to increased uncertainty that makes it impossible to predict what lies ahead. Therefore, gradual cultural change in education is no longer an option to ease social pain. The vast majority of engineering education and training systems, which have remained largely static and underinvested for decades, are inadequate for the emerging 4IR and AI labour markets. Nevertheless, some positive developments can be observed in the reorientation of the engineering education sector. Novel approaches to engineering education are already providing distinctive, technology-enhanced, personalised, student-centred curriculum experiences within an integrated and unified education system. We need to educate engineering students for a future whose key characteristics are volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (“VUCA”). Talent and skills gaps are expected to increase in all industries in the coming years. The authors argue for an engineering curriculum that combines timeless didactic traditions such as Socratic inquiry, mastery-based and project-based learning and first-principles thinking with novel elements, e.g., student-centred active and e-learning with a focus on case studies, as well as visualization/metaverse and gamification elements discussed in this paper, and a refocusing of engineering skills and knowledge enhanced by AI on human qualities such as creativity, empathy and dexterity. These skills strengthen engineering students’ perceptions of the world and the decisions they make as a result. This 4IR engineering curriculum will prepare engineering students to become curious engineers and excellent collaborators who navigate increasingly complex multistakeholder ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number782
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)
  • didactics
  • emerging educational technologies
  • ethics
  • future of education
  • future of engineering
  • future of work
  • game-based learning
  • gamification
  • metaverse
  • online learning
  • serious games
  • skills gap


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