Career – Futureproof Your Career
In the next decade, some positions will become redundant, while others will take on a new shape or form. Here’s how to increase your chances of job security
Growing up, Nomso Kana had a strange habit of wanting to count everything. While living in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape, she’d be on the way to the city with her mom and start counting the number of people in the bus. After this, she’d start counting the cars as they passed by on the road. She didn’t know it at the time, but this interest in tracking numbers and analysing would form the foundation of an illustrious career. Today, Kana is a nuclear scientist-turned-entrepreneur. The career transition came about from her frustration over internet speed — her solution was starting a fibre optic manufacturing company. Sun n Shield 84 Technologies has not only helped provide faster internet to citizens throughout the country, its success has also seen Kana win a slew of awards — among them the 2018 AWIEF Young Entrepreneur Award.
It’s hard to predict how Kana’s life would have worked out if she’d remained in her career as a nuclear scientist. What is certain however, is that the decision to embrace technology in her entrepreneurial endeavours has not only been financially sound, it has set her up for a career and business that will thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
As the world becomes more and more technologically driven, 4IR is going to be critical to both career success and longevity. Earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa established the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Kana is one of the 31 members whose task is to identify relevant policies, strategies and action plans that will position South Africa as a competitive global player. Industrial revolutions are a reference to the way societies work and live. In the past century, the world has undergone the first revolution, which primarily affected agriculture, the second revolution, which saw the introduction of industrial machinery, and the third revolution which was the digitisation of information.
The 4IR has already begun. Building on the advances made in the past century, it describes a blurring of the boundaries between the physical, digital and biological domains. Unlike the previous revolutions, 4IR is set to have a more pervasive impact where every sector will be affected, says data scientist and entrepreneur, Malvin Maduna Nkomo. If you want to increase job security and longevity, you need to be familiar with the basic concepts of 4IR (see sidebar). And then you need to constantly keep learning. “There is a need to urgently upskill ourselves in the wake of the 4IR sweeping across various sectors. Online learning tools are available to aid in bridging the gap between the old and new. Self-paced online courses in data science like artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, emerging internet technologies and programming (Python, R, Java, Kotlin) are available from accredited worldrenowned universities conducted by academics and industry
professionals who have deep insights of the subject matters. Sites such as Coursera, Datacamp, Udemy, Udacity and Khan Academy are some of the leading learning portals that are available. This doesn’t mean that you need to go back to school and start another degree. Instead, these courses can augment what you already have,” Nkomo says.
Movies and video games that show a future where robots have taken over the world paint an inaccurate picture of the influence of 4IR. Robots will not take away our jobs, Nkomo says, but we will need to learn how to co-habit with them. “Robots will do what they’re good at, which is precision and repetitiveness, and humans will focus on awareness, perception and decision making.”