A new digital world needs new skills
Worldwide, the workforce is changing. Many roles are disappearing, while new ones are springing up. The discrepancy between the skills people have and those needed for jobs in the digital world is one of the most critical issues facing organisations. Upskilling for the digital world has become a priority for society, organisations and governments.
The digital age has advanced the speed of change and impacting all industries. The Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning and digital manufacturing are leading a technological revolution, reshaping business models and ways of doing business.
Organisations are transforming their workforces to drive productivity, innovation and growth. It is in the interest of all stakeholders to collaborate and work together to solve this issue.
PwC recently carried out a survey of more than 22, 000 workers across 11 countries worldwide (UK, South African Germany, Netherlands, Australia, France, China, India, Singapore and Poland to share their hopes and fears regarding the impact of automation on jobs. The survey titled ‘Upskilling Hopes and Fears,’ shows that the majority of workers (61%) were positive about the impact of technology on their day-today work, and 77% of people would learn new skills now or completely retrain to improve their future employability. Just over half of workers surveyed globally (53%) believe that automation will significantly change or make their job obsolete within the next ten years (only 28% felt this unlikely).
Seven in ten (70%) of South African workers feel positive about the future impact of technology on their jobs. While this number is higher than their European counterparts (61% for the UK and 52% for France) and Australian counterparts (50%), it is still a contrast to India and China where 88% and 85% respectively take the same view, even accounting for cultural bias.
Over half (56%) of South African adults worry that automation is putting jobs at risk, but when asked about their current job specifically, only 16% said they were nervous or scared about the future impact of technology, with women feeling more nervous/scared than men (21% vs 12%).
It is notable that degree-educated respondents were the most optimistic about technology and their future employment prospects – even though they believe their current job is likely to change significantly or be displaced. Conversely, over a third (34%) of adults without post-secondary school education or training say they are not learning any new digital skills compared with 17% of college graduates.
In South Africa over 70% of university educated people (72% of those educated at undergraduate level and 75% of those at postgraduate level) feel optimistic about the impact of technology on their jobs. Only 57% of those educated at school leaver level are more worried about the impact of technology on their jobs.
South Africa, in particular the youth, face numerous socio-economic challenges including unemployment, poverty and inequality. High unemployment rates among the youth between the ages of 15 to 24 years are among some of the most frequently cited indicators of the difficulty young people face in making the transition from school to unemployment.
Upskilling is an investment in the future
Upskilling is about taking the skills people currently have and making them more relevant for the future. It is about giving people the opportunity to gain the knowledge, tools, and abilities they need to use and understand ever-changing and advanced technologies in the workplace. We are facing a new world that needs new skills. Preparing the next generation for a mind-set of lifelong learning is critical to drive South Africa’s competitiveness in the face of the fourth industrial revolution that is upending the nature of work across the world.
At PwC, we are working with other organisations across the world, building on our work with clients and on upskilling our 276,000 people. Still, more must be done if we are to ensure everyone has the opportunity to learn, work and participate in the digital world. This is at the heart of our purpose.
Article by Chantel Maritz, Strategy& Digital Transformation Lead at PwC South Africa
Visit pwc.com/upskilling for more information.
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