South Africa needs to look at more innovative ways of using the fourth industrial revolution, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, augmented reality, simulations and automation, says minister of Higher Education and Technology Blade Nzimande.
Speaking at the launch of the country’s 4IR virtual conference on Thursday (25 June), Nzimande said that South Africa ‘cannot afford to just pour more and more money’ into education and training, but should rather look to think smarter.
“We have to allow students to accumulate ‘stackable micro-credentials’ throughout a lifelong learning trajectory, which they can acquire while moving in and out of the education system and the workplace and through a diverse, and growing, range of educational modalities enabled by technologies and work-integrated learning,” he said.
“One thing that Covid-19 has taught us is that we have to support augmented/remote student learning through a variety of teaching and learning methodologies.
This was not possible a year ago, because we were still very much in the talk-and-chalk mode. I want to emphasise, multi-modal teaching, learning and assessment is not an option for universities and TVET colleges any more, it is a necessity.
“Everyone in the PSET, from universities, TVET and CET colleges to skills development programmes and WIL must embark on modes of educational delivery that embrace the principles of open learning, as outlined in current PSET policies.”
In addition to changes in the education model, Nzimande said that the country will soon see emerging, new and innovative business models.
He added that there will be a major shift in future jobs including:
- Data analysts and scientists;
- AI and machine learning specialists;
- Big data specialists;
- New technology specialists
- Software and applications developers and analysts.
“However, alongside robotics specialists and engineers you will find jobs like people and culture specialists, client information and customer service workers, and client information and customer service workers,” he said.
“We have to fill the whole spectrum of the job market – we are not going to replace people with machines, we are going to make people better workers using innovative technologies.”
Nzimande said that education and training has been a solution to many problems throughout the history of humanity, hence we always go back to it whenever we find ourselves in a predicament.
“As a country, we also go back to education and training to help us solve all our problems, which is why education will play a very critical role in understanding and adapting to the 4th industrial revolution.
“At the core of it all – we need education – education and training that keep pace with the 4IR.”