SA must tackle disruption by digital automation – experts
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.”