The role of youth in ad­vanc­ing RET in the epoch of the 4th In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion

African Times - - News -

Daniel Madibana is the Con­vener of ANCYL Re­gional Task Team in Water­berg Re­gion in Lim­popo Prov­ince and writes in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity. He holds a BSC Bio­chem­istry De­gree and is study­ing to­wards a Post Grad­u­ate Di­ploma in Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion with the Gor­don In­sti­tute of Busi­ness Science.

In to­day’s world, which will be dom­i­nated by in­ter­net of things (IoT), Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence, 3D print­ing, ro­bot­ics and cryptocurrencies, for South African black youth must em­brace the 4th in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion through in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity to truly ad­vance Rad­i­cal Eco­nomic Trans­for­ma­tion (RET).

Youth from dif­fer­ent per­sua­sion should then chan­nel their en­ergy and at­ten­tion on ad­vo­cat­ing for skills that will be re­quired in the cur­rent epoch we are en­ter­ing. We should fur­ther crit­i­cally ques­tion the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem we have and ask dif­fi­cult ques­tions such as: what are the skills-set re­quired in the 4th In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion? What type of skills do we have now that will be re­dun­dant in the long run? Is the cur­ricu­lum which is taught in both ba­sic and higher ed­u­ca­tion fu­tur­eready? What is the value of knowl­edge when Google and You-tube are on our fin­ger tips? Young peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly from the rul­ing ANC should hon­estly re­flect on the ques­tions raised and come with con­crete strat­egy and prac­ti­cal pro­gramme to pre­pare for this change.

To high­light the fact that dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion is al­ready dis­rup­tive, one can look on how Uber is dis­rupt­ing the taxi in­dus­try. Al­though the taxi in­dus­try won the bat­tle against Uber so far, the truth of the mat­ter is that they will even­tu­ally lose the War be­cause of in­evitabil­ity of change. Even the great­est philoso­pher of all times, Karl Max al­luded that “there is noth­ing that does not change ex­cept change it­self and there is noth­ing that does not move ex­cept move­ment it­self ”.

In the next 20 years, tech­nol­ogy would dis­rupt the cur­rent so­cioe­co­nomic struc­ture so over­whelm­ingly. All the in­dus­tries are sus­cep­ti­ble to this dis­rup­tion, in­clud­ing the fi­nan­cial and min­ing sec­tors which en­joyed com­fort for many decades. There­fore, the youth from dif­fer­ent per­sua­sion should take a lead in em­brac­ing the work­force of the fu­ture and form strate­gic al­liances with gov­ern­ment, pri­vate sec­tor, Devel­op­ment Fi­nance In­sti­tu­tions (DFI), paras­tatals and the Na­tional Youth Devel­op­ment Agency to drive skills revo­lu­tion that is fu­ture-ready.

At the core of newly launched pres­i­den­tial ini­tia­tive called Youth Em­ploy­ment Ser­vice (YES), young peo­ple should en­sure that skills re­lated to the dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy and other com­po­nents of the 4th in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion are pri­or­i­tized. The 2017 World Eco­nomic Fo­rum (WEF) re­port on “The fu­ture of jobs and skill in Africa” sug­gest that 41% of all work ac­tiv­i­ties in South Africa are sus­cep­ti­ble to au­to­ma­tion.

This job dis­rup­tion can be linked to the fact that busi­ness will mi­grate to au­to­ma­tion for them to in­crease economies of scale and be­ing more prof­itable. How­ever, this might present an op­por­tu­nity of cre­at­ing more jobs in the In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy (ICT), data analy­ses, cy­ber se­cu­rity ex­pert, green jobs and engi­neer­ing field. The scary part is that the 2017 WEF re­port also in­di­cates that 39% core skills re­quired will be wholly dif­fer­ent in 2020 due to in­tense use of tech­nol­ogy. Some of the jobs to be af­fected are bank tell­ers as re­search in­di­cates that the ATM’s of to­mor­row will be able to do 90% of what the hu­man be­ing can do. Other jobs that will be hit by au­to­ma­tion are fi­nan­cial an­a­lysts, ac­coun­tants, con­struc­tion and man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ers.

On ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion, the 54th Na­tional con­fer­ence of the rul­ing party re­solved that steps should be taken to im­ple­ment op­er­a­tion Phak­isa to in­tro­duce ICT in schools. As young peo­ple we must en­sure that such res­o­lu­tion is im­ple­mented with speed and pri­or­ity be placed on ru­ral and town­ship schools. The ICT sec­tor is a strate­gic en­abler in the 4th in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion and in­vest­ment on its tools is very im­per­a­tive.

The in­vest­ment in ICT sec­tor should de­lib­er­ately fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing black owned SMME’s as this sec­tor is dom­i­nated by white com­pa­nies. The ANC fur­ther re­solved to in­vest 1.5% of Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP) on Re­search and Devel­op­ment by 2019. Young peo­ple should not just ad­vo­cate for im­ple­men­ta­tion of such res­o­lu­tion but to also en­sure that black African youths re­main key ben­e­fi­cia­ries. One of the con­straints for black young peo­ple to ac­cess and lever­age on tech­nol­ogy, is the ex­or­bi­tant cost of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in our coun­try. The con­fer­ence fur­ther re­solved to sup­port the cam­paign for data to fall as it is sti­fling eco­nomic in­clu­sion. It thus re­mains the role of us as young peo­ple to pro­pose prac­ti­cal steps to gov­ern­ment for it to ad­dress this high cost of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Cre­at­ing con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity for young peo­ple will go a long way in ad­dress­ing the in­ef­fi­cien­cies re­gard­ing ser­vice de­liv­ery. We should be proud to pro­duce young peo­ple who will be able to de­velop APPS that will as­sist to ad­dress the needs of so­ci­ety re­gard­ing gov­ern­ment ser­vices. This will only hap­pen if the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem pro­duces young peo­ple with skills in com­plex prob­lems solv­ing and crit­i­cal thinkers. We do not just want knowl­edge­able youth but those who will be able to ap­ply their knowl­edge and con­trib­ute to so­cioe­co­nomic growth of our so­ci­ety. The 4th in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion is here, ours is to em­brace, adopt and lever­age on new op­por­tu­ni­ties to ad­vance the in­ter­est of young peo­ple in gen­eral and blacks in par­tic­u­lar.

( Pres­i­dent Ram­pa­phosa taen through a tour of Volvo Truck plant in Dur­ban) Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa ad­dresses the Volvo Group South­ern Africa’s Youth Em­ploy­ment Ini­tia­tive event held at the Volvo Trucks assem­bly plant in Dur­ban on Satur­day. Pres­i­dent...

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