Upskilling for the future
BE PROACTIVE: BUSINESS LAGGING BEHIND
SA has a shortage of employees with skills that befit the fourth industrial revolution.
They say there is a skills shortage in South Africa. How ironic amid the highest unemployment rate South Africa has ever experienced. To be fair, the skills shortage is in critical skills in professional sectors such as biochemicals, fintech, information technology, finance, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and energy to name a few. These are sectors that the greater percentage of the South African population is not skilled in.
This is clearly a result of lack of planning on the government’s part. The government failed to equip its people with skills for this current economy. It is incomprehensible that universities and colleges still offer obsolete programmes that the market no longer requires as a skill set. Clearly, the government and the educational fraternity need to have a sit down to develop a framework that equips the people with relevant skills.
But not to place all the blame on the government and the educational institutions, we must also look at business and ask what hand does it or should it play.
A simple example is digitisation, many processes that were previously done manually by people can now be carried out by computer systems through automation. Recently, the banking sector announced massive retrenchments through the shutting down of many of its branches. They did this because more consumers are utilising digital banking and not walking into physical branches which translates to less physical branches required.
The question becomes shouldn’t the banks have upskilled their bank tellers, for example, allowing them to move from bank tellers to a digital banking function? Theocratically it makes sense but obviously, it is more complicated than that.
But the general idea is simple, should businesses upskill their employees towards the new economy? Should it be your responsibility as a business owner, to begin with? Because the banking sector argues that they knew that they were going to phase out physical branches possibly two or three years ago. Should they have used this time to upskill branch employees allowing them to participate in the new banking format?
Or should that be each employee’s responsibility?
It is no secret that the world is moving towards digitisation. Therefore, shouldn’t an eager, wise employee take it upon themselves to upskill and ready themselves for change?
It’s a good debate to be had but one thing is clear. South Africa has a shortage of 21st century employees with skills that befit the fourth industrial revolution.
It is therefore up to each business owner to decide whether to invest in upskilling employees for the betterment of their business. Waiting for government might leave your business lagging due to a lack of relevant skilled labour.
PARTNER UP. The government and the educational fraternity need to have a sit down to develop a framework that equips the people with relevant skills.