SA must tackle dis­rup­tion by dig­i­tal au­to­ma­tion – ex­perts

The New Age (KwaZulu-Natal) - - Inside - BERNARD SATHEKGE bernard@the­newage.co.za

DIG­I­TAL ex­perts warn that SA is at risk of los­ing 5.6 mil­lion jobs be­cause of dis­rup­tions brought about by the “fourth in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion”.

This poses a ma­jor chal­lenge for the depart­ments of Eval­u­a­tion and Mon­i­tor­ing, Trade and In­dus­try and Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, they say.

Ex­perts said the threat of the on­com­ing tsunami of au­to­ma­tion could de­rail the ob­jec­tives of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan which aims to cre­ate 11 mil­lion jobs by 2030.

Fur­ther, this could have a crip­pling ef­fect on the Youth Em­ploy­ment Ser­vice which aims at cre­at­ing 1 mil­lion jobs in three years.

“Book keep­ing, ac­count­ing and au­dit- ing clerks have the high­est risk of au­to­ma­tion. It’s not just man­ual labour jobs.

“SA could see a crip­pling ef­fect of at least 5.7 mil­lion jobs, if ig­nored. We need to speed up the process of how we deal with the risk of dig­i­tal au­to­ma­tion,” Dr Roze Phillips of Univer­sity of Stel­len­bosch Busi­ness School said.

Phillips, who is also the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Ac­cen­ture Con­sult­ing Africa, said re­search shows that if SA could dou­ble the pace to equip its work­force with rel­e­vant skills for hu­man-ma­chine col­lab­o­ra­tion, it can re­duce the num­ber of jobs at risk from 3.5 mil­lion in 2025 to 2.5 mil­lion.

“SA is less pre­pared than other coun­tries and needs to give its work­force skills to par­tic­i­pate in the dig­i­tal econ­omy,” she said.

Te­boho The­jane, spokesper­son for the Depart­ment of Labour, said they were hard at work pre­par­ing the in­for­mal econ­omy to be ready for au­to­ma­tion.

“A lot of work has been done in this re­gard, to­gether with unions and com­mu­nity rep­re­sen­ta­tives as per res­o­lu­tions taken by the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

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