The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has introduced a level of change, and sometimes disruption, to our daily lives that has been unprecedented all of which has been further accelerated by the Covid-19 Pandemic. However, rather than looking at this as an obstacle to be overcome, MANCOSA prefers to view these changes as an opportunity to upskill our youth for a technology enabled future.
The number of digital immigrants in the world is diminishing. We are no longer dealing with youth born into a world where they are adopting technology, the youth of today were born into a technologically enabled world and are quite adaptable to the rapid changes that drive the development of these technologies. “It is important that we realise this and that we make a concerted effort to tech technology-based subjects to our youth,” says Paresh Soni, Director of the MANCOSA School of Information & Digital Technology.
Nurturing the future
Research done by the World Economic Forum (WEF) shows the rapid development of technology and how it has changed the landscape of the workforce of the future.
In fact, there are now some jobs that did not exist as little as 10 years ago, these include app developers, driverless car engineers, cloud computing specialists, big data analysts and data scientists as well as drone manufactures and coders.
Coding is becoming an essential skill as it is central to society’s adoption of a technology enabled future. It is the language of computers and all they do, making it a basic requirement for many of the best 4IR professions. There are many companies actively looking for employees with a strong grasp of coding.
Bearing in mind the WEF research, the number of jobs that require coding skills will grow exponentially. In addition, there is a massive drive to migrate most services and products online so that they can fit in with a digitized future. This means they will have to exist and work in a virtual environment. Without coding skills, it would be difficult to provide a quality product or service.
Key trends driving the future demand for tech skills
Supporting the WEF’s research, McKinsey recently released key findings around many of the major trends driving the future demand for tech skills.
- 70% of companies will employ hybrid or multicloud management technologies, tools, and processes;
- More than 50% of mobile user searches will be augmented by AI-driven speech, written word, or computer-vision algorithms;
- Advances in AI, machine learning, robotics, and other technologies have increased the pace of change tenfold; and
- 50 billion devices will be connected to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), while 70% of manufacturers are expected to be using digital twins regularly by the end of 2022.
All of which increases the demand for coding, coders and robotics.
Rapid growth demands a rapid response
“So where does South Africa fit into this future narrative? It is my view that South Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to the provision of tech enabled skills. It is clear that coding is the language of the future, and if we want to be a significant role player in that future, as a country, we need to put our best foot forward and invest in teaching technology-based subjects to our youth,” says Soni.
The rapid growth of information and digital technologies, perpetuated through the emergence of the 4IR, has caused seismic shifts in the ways that businesses and societies operate. As a result, education in the field of information and digital technology is no longer an exclusive domain for aspiring technology experts, IT managers and Chief Information Officers. Instead, digital skills are becoming a prerequisite for any individual who is seeking to operate across a wide spectrum of industries and sectors within the modern digital economy.
The School of Information and Digital Technology (SIDT) is MANCOSA’s response to the overwhelming demand for contemporary, fit-for-purpose digital and IT education offerings. The SIDT attracts students seeking to advance their skills and qualifications as technology professionals, whilst also catering to students who may work in a variety of other industries and who are seeking to operate effectively as digital citizens, artisans, leaders and innovators.
“MANCOSA has a very unique approach when it comes to teaching these skills,” says Soni, “we are very cognisant of the fact that the majority of individuals that want to further their education do not come from an IT background. However, these skills can be plotted on a continuum, and it does not matter whether you come from an IT background or not, your digital proficiency will improve as you learn. Our teaching style is very human centric and is not heavily focused on the technology. We need to bring people and technology together through learning.”
The future is unfolding before our eyes
The 4IR always promised significant change. When Klaus Schwab introduced the concept in 2015, he predicted that its changes would take 10 to 15 years to be implemented. However, the Covid-19 Pandemic has accelerated this timeframe to just 2 to 5 years.
The future is unfolding right before our eyes. The McKinsey research points out that one pharmaceutical company grew its low-code platform base from eight users to 1 400 in just one year. Business users outside of IT are now building applications with thousands of monthly sessions and many companies that empower citizen developers score 33% higher on innovation compared with bottom-quartile companies that do not provide that level of support.
“This is why it is important that we need to take the bold step towards improving our education in technology-based subjects today. South Africa cannot always be reacting to trends from a defensive position,” says Soni.