By AKANI CHAUKE in Johannesburg
BUSINESS Connexion (BCX) chief human resources officer Hope Lukoto is adamant new technologies will not wipe out jobs or exacerbate unemployment in South Africa.
The country has a dire joblessness predicament, particularly among youth, with more than 20 million people under the age of 35 unemployed.
Millions lack access to education and training in the country of some 60 million people.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the inequality gap in wealth, knowledge and opportunity.
Fears of new technologies eliminating some jobs are thus worsening anxiety in a nation having arguably the highest levels of inequality.
However, Lukoto allayed such concerns. “The tech-driven world can create more jobs,” she said.
Lukoto said economic transformation could be rekindled with a focus on emergent technologies and skills, and tech was changing at an exponentially rapid
Emerging skills such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are playing an increasing function in everything.
“It’s not a question of whether we are ready or not. We have to accelerate to create and increase opportunity,” Lukoto said.
She reiterated that qualms over technology putting jobs out of place, saying, “We have to dispel the fear that skills will be displaced by automation.”
Stakeholders, Lukoto advised, must adopt a different approach.
“Our essential human skills are not going to be taken away, but they will be enhanced.”
“Adopting robotics and automation allows us to think differently about our careers and our skills,” Lukoto added.
BCX believes it is the technology industry’s duty to create a workforce that is fourth industrial revolution (4IR-) competent and to put South Africa at the forefront of the revolution. – CAJ News