Close to half of South African jobs will be rendered extinct as the country undergoes a technological revolution.
This is according to Gauteng premier, David Makhura, who spoke during the launch of the country’s first Digital Economy Summit on Friday,5 July.
Makhura in his speech also revealed that 35 percent of jobs that are regarded as important today would transform while others will be non-existent.
“The World Economic Forum estimates that 65 percent of children entering primary school will find themselves in occupations that today do not exist,” he said.
The summit, which was also attended by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa took place at a time when many economic sectors are slowly going through the digital transition.
“For instance, the average ICT intensity of jobs in SA has increased by 20 percent over the last decade. Gauteng province is determined to play an important role as an economic engine of our country and industrial, technological and financial hub of Sub-Saharan Africa,” he noted.
The summit, which was the first of its kind hosted by the South African government, was organized in collaboration with the fourth industrial revolution SA (4IRSA).
As the revolution rapidly becomes a lived reality, worries have severally been raised over the impact the technological revolution may have on jobs. Many times experts have warned that the move may lead to massive job layoffs better known as technological unemployment.
However, think tanks say that the revolution will be beneficial if it is linked to ‘inward industrialization’ strategies.
While addressing attendees of the summit, Ramaphosa said the industrial revolution would enhance job creation and economic transformation. He said, “Fourth Industrial Revolution will yield and enable us to grow our economy. Jobs will be lost as we embrace the industrial revolution, but many more jobs will be created in the process.”
In his address, Ramaphosa noted that South Africa would leverage new technology in a move that will revolutionise the continent. The SA president used holographic technology while delivering his speech, a move which put him on the global map as he was the first president to deliver a speech via hologram.
“South Africa must take the lead to ensure that we collectively harness the opportunities and navigate the challenges brought about by the advent of 4th Industrial Revolution,” he said.
As the country, known as the most industrialised economy embraces the industrial revolution, it has pledged to upskill its citizens with the required knowledge so that they fit in the digital economy.
Ramphosa revealed that over than one million young people would be trained in data science and related skills by 2030 as part of the initiative. More technology-focused subjects will also be introduced in the South African school curriculum.
“As I undertook in the state of the nation address, we are introducing subjects such as coding and data analytics at a primary school level to prepare our young people for the jobs of the future.”
Hundreds of young people are also currently being trained on tech-related subjects, including cloud computing and drone piloting.
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