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SA's MICT SETA details country's route to 4IR

SA's MICT SETA details country's route to 4IR South Africa's Media, Information and Community Technology (MICT) SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) has established a 4IR division and advisory committees to offer direct input into the government's 4IR Commission programmes and ensure alignment with other institutions.

According to a statement released by Gugu Goodness Sema, head of 4IR at MICT SETA, 4IR refers to a new era that is rooted in a new technological phenomenon - digitalisation, artificial intelligence, algorithms and data.

"In order for an economy to benefit from these changes, as opposed to suffer the consequences of the much predicted mass-unemployment that this revolution will hail, there needs to be a 4IR ready workforce. While many of these technological innovations will mean job losses, there is also the massive opportunity to create jobs via some of the key skills areas required for this new world of work. Some of the essential skill sets include the cloud, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, data science and analytics, and cyber security," said Sema.

Sema referenced the findings of a recently commissioned research, published by the Kagiso Trust, based on an extensive evaluation of citizen awareness of 4IR and its potential impact on South Africa's society.

According to the research 49.1% of respondents believe there will be a societal impact from 4IR, just over half of the respondents believe that 4IR will result in large-scale job losses and only a quarter of the respondents believe that the 4IR will improve societal equality.

Sema also mentioned a report by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) on the future of work in South Africa, published in early 2019. The report lists 12 main driving forces that will shape the South African workplace of the future and placed 4IR and technology at the top of the list.

"With the establishment of the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, of which the MICT SETA consults, policy is being developed to address 4IR across various sectors including agriculture, finance, mining, manufacturing, ICT and electronics and business. With so many developments rapidly taking place, and the still general lack of understanding about just what 4IR entails, it is critical to take a few steps back and clarify some of the essential points around 4IR and how we embrace and pro-actively address the needs of the 4IR future, said Sema.

The MICT SETA has established a 4IR division and Advisory Committees with four work stream areas of focus: education, research, policy and labour. The division will input into Presidential 4IR Commission programmes and ensure alignment with other institutions such as SETAs, academia, public funded research institutions, labour and community on 4IR policy and implementation.

The MICT SETA is also in the process of reviewing and developing new qualification that will address the 4IR skills needed for future of works.

"The opportunity to create a 4IR ready country and workforce will take an immense amount of resources – but fortunately the process has already begun and as we head into 2020 will accelerate into high gear," Sema added.

Technology professionals have urged the continent to ready itself for 4IR by exploiting technologies like IOT, cloud, AI, 3D-printing and 5G.

SA's MICT SETA details country's route to 4IR

At AfricaCom 2019, hosted recently in Cape Town, Paul Scanlan, chief technology officer, Carrier Business Group, Huawei Technologies, said if Africa wants to drive the US$5-trillion digital economy across all sectors, it has to be aware of several technologies.

"If you want to drive the economy, you need to have targets, and if you have targets, you better know where you are today and you better know how to get there. You have to understand two fundamental things: what are the platform technologies and the second one, what are the enablers. Right at the bottom, if you don't have money, you can't do anything... so we start with money. But more importantly, even with the best regulatory policies, and the best technologies and the best will in the worlds, if you don't have a talent development programme, it's not going to work," he said.

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