Up­skilling for the fu­ture

BE PROAC­TIVE: BUSI­NESS LAG­GING BE­HIND

The Citizen (KZN) - - Business - Munya Du­vera is chief ex­ec­u­tive officer at Du­vera El­group Munya Du­vera

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.

Pic­ture: Shuttersto­ck

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.

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