Half of SA companies want to replace ‘repetitive jobs’ with machines

Financial services company Deloitte has published its 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report, looking at how technology will impact international and local companies.

Completed by nearly 10,000 respondents in 119 countries, the report is the largest longitudinal survey of its kind.

One of the key focuses of the report is how automation is expected to impact major companies globally.

In South Africa, more than half of respondents (51%) are exploring automation and 58% state they are using automation to replace repetitive work.

“The ongoing adoption of automation technologies amplifies the need for continuous learning,” Deloitte said.

“Even with advancements in technology, human skills remain critical to augmenting value. Some organisations are considering redesigning work into a new category of ‘super-jobs,’ which combines work and skill sets across multiple domains and opens up opportunities for mobility, advancement and the rapid adoption of new skills desperately needed today.”

Even as part of the workforce re-organises into ‘super-jobs’ Deloitte Consulting Africa’s human capital leader, Pam Maharaj, said that lower-wage work across service sectors continues to grow, along with non-traditional contract, freelance, and gig employment.

“It is imperative that these jobs are not left behind as there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to the workforce of the future,” Maharaj said.

“Organisations need to explore all options and create a culture which embraces technology while ensuring that people feel a sense of belonging and esteem.”


As organisations embrace and adopt robotics and AI, they’re finding that virtually every job can be redesigned—creating new categories of work, including hybrid jobs and ‘superjobs’,  Deloitte said.

“The use of artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive technologies, and robotics to automate and augment work is on the rise, prompting the redesign of jobs in a growing number of domains.

“The jobs of today are more machine-powered and data-driven than in the past, and they also require more human skills in problem-solving, communication, interpretation, and design.

“As machines take over repeatable tasks and the work people do becomes less routine, many jobs will rapidly evolve into what we call ‘superjobs’ – the newest job category that changes the landscape of how organisations think about work.”

War for talent

Deloitte said that organisations are currently in a ‘job-seekers’ market’ and are facing ‘a war for talent’.

“Leaders should be shifting their focus from acquiring talent to accessing capabilities and taking a more expanded view of where skills can be found,” said Maharaj. “This can pay dividends in today’s fast-paced and high-demand business environment.”

In the study,  a quarter of local respondents (26%) felt that their rewards systems are highly aligned with their organisational goals, whilst 23% said that they did not feel they knew what rewards their employees value.

“HR has a new mandate, beyond the administrative scope, to shape the future of work,” said Maharaj.

“The entire organisation, led by a symphonic C-suite, needs to come together to take the lead in establishing the future of work. It is not just an HR responsibility.”

“Organisations must reshape their approach to human capital, into one that has the worker in mind and create opportunities for continuous learning, accelerated development and professional – as well as personal – growth.”

Read: This is what the average fintech boss looks like in South Africa

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Half of SA companies want to replace ‘repetitive jobs’ with machines