South Africa will need to prepare its workers as the country stands on the brink of a ‘technological revolution’, according to Gauteng premier, David Makhura, who was speaking at the launch of the country’s first Digital Economy Summit on Friday (5 July).
“The World Economic Forum estimates that 65% of children entering primary school will find themselves in occupations that today do not exist,” he said.
“We in South Africa are also moving fast to a future in which 41% of current jobs in South Africa will be rendered obsolete by automation; when 35% of skills that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed beyond recognition and others would have disappeared completely.”
Makhura said that Africa and South Africa cannot be left behind.
“South Africa must take a lead in order to ensure that we collectively harness the opportunities and navigate the challenges brought about by the advent of 4th Industrial Revolution,” he said.
Makhura said that there is evidence that many sectors of the South African economy are undergoing a digital transition – although not at a fast-enough pace.
“For instance, the average ICT intensity of jobs in South Africa has increased by 20% over the past decade,”he said.
He added that software and ICT services firms attracted the most Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) benefitting 104 firms involved in 110 projects.
“The demand for digital skills is massive and we are already collaborating with major technology companies and our universities to train one million young people with digital skills through our Tshepo 1 Million programme,” he said.
“We are also working with our universities and private sector centres of excellence to build enduring and agile innovation ecosystem.
“The 4th industrial revolution is upon us and we must take action to prepare our nation fully for the new economy and new society.”