The digital age, and the new technologies it’s brought with it – blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, augmented reality and virtual reality – are seen by many as a threat to our way of life as we know it. What if my job gets automated? How will I stay relevant? How do we adapt to the need for new skills to manage customer expectations and the flood of data that’s washing over us?
The bad news is that the nature of work has already changed irrevocably. Everything that can be automated, will be. The World Economic Forum predicts that 41% of all work activities in South Africa are susceptible to automation, compared to 44% in Ethiopia, 46% in Nigeria and 52% in Kenya. This doesn’t mean they will be automated overnight, but it’s a clear indicator of the future.
The good news is that we don’t need to panic. What’s important for us in South Africa, and the African continent, is that there is plenty of work that only humans can do. This is particularly relevant to the African context, as the working-age population rises to 600 million in 2030 from 370 million in 2010. These people need jobs – and the digital age has the ability to provide them.
Between 2012 and 2017, for example, it’s estimated that the demand for data analysts grew by 372%, and the demand for data visualisation skills by more than 2000%. As businesses, this means we have to not only create new jobs in areas like data science and analytics, but reskill our existing workforces to deal with the digital revolution and its new demands. We’re on the brink of a major opportunity. We just have to grasp it.
Source: Business Essentials is Africa’s premium networking and business directory.