New skills South Africans need to survive the future of work

 ·1 Apr 2023

New technologies such as ChatGPT are making professionals nervous, and it is up to job seekers to best prepare themselves.

Micheal Hanly, the managing director of online learning provider New Leaf Technologies, said that there are learnable skills that people can equip themselves for in the ‘new world’.

“The rapid speed at which technology is advancing can be terrifying for many people, as just as they have become used to a certain way of doing things, they need to be retrained.”

“Professionals are suddenly questioning whether they are even needed anymore or whether they might be retrenched,” said Hanly.

Hanly said some of the most notable high-demand skills required to get ahead of technology include:

  • Digital literacy: As more businesses move online and remote work becomes increasingly common, digital literacy is becoming a fundamental skill. This includes proficiency in basic computer skills as well as more advanced knowledge of software, data analytics and cybersecurity.
  • Leadership and management: Leaders need to navigate complex business environments, motivate teams and drive innovation.
  • Creativity and innovation: These are essential for companies looking to stay ahead of the curve.
  • Emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence (EQ) helps workers at all levels communicate effectively, manage stress and build strong relationships.
  • Cultural competence: Understanding different cultural norms and values and being able to work effectively with people from different backgrounds is crucial in South Africa.
  • Data analysis: There is an increasing demand for professionals who can analyze and interpret large volumes of data to inform business decisions.
  • Communication skills: This includes not only written and verbal communication but also the ability to listen actively and work collaboratively with others.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving: Analyzing information, identifying patterns and trends, and developing creative solutions to complex problems are a must these days.

Hanly said these skills would likely remain in high demand for the foreseeable future, and businesses should invest in learning and development programmes for their employees.

“These programmes should be designed to meet the specific needs of the learners and should include a variety of learning methods, such as classroom-based training, online learning and on-the-job training,” he said.

E-learning platforms can now be introduced into a company with the aim of upskilling in-house employees. Hanly said that e-learning platforms are very well at meeting the demands of the skills gap in South Africa.

Even large banks are looking to upskill their employees. Capitec said that poor digital literacy is hampering businesses.

It is essential that a workforce also has the freedom to self-upskill beyond traditional methods, said the bank.

According to Capitec, the significance of data in the digital economy should not be underestimated by businesses. It further said that the responsibility of managing data is no longer restricted to data scientists only, as it now involves every member of an organization.

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