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IIG Insights – Skills Development in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The webinar kicked off with a brief introduction from the sponsor for this webinar, Sybrin Systems SA who then handed over to IIG President Thabo Twalo who set the tone for the content for discussion. He touched on revolution there being a re-set or a disruption world order. The 4th Industrial Revolution provides Africa with an opportunity to ‘leapfrog’ into the world’s economy and own our place. Diversification of skills set is crucial as change is not personal, it’s inevitable to build a stronger future.

Karabo Moloko – is a dynamic businesswoman and CEO of Sybrin, board member of Sybrin collab projects. She recently developed an app called Aminah, that identifies and fights against gender-based violence. Her greatest passion currently unleashing Africa into 4IR and is driving a unique way towards sustained results.

Karabo emphasized that she is hugely passionate about urging Africans especially women to empower and develop themselves. Karabo unpacked the following topics:

The Changing World:

  • Disruptive forces
  • Disruptive Technologies
  • Disruptive strategies 

The Changing Nature of Work:

  • Factors driving change
  • The future of work

Responding to the Changing Times

  • The Career S-curve
  • Learn
  • UnLearn
  • ReLearn

We need to learn and align around disruptive forces and business strategies of south African companies that are driving change indicative of what the future of work will look like.  We need to future-proof ourselves to survive the changing business landscape. South Africa itself has been faced with its own financial crisis, a global pandemic, civil unrest, corruption, the Great Resignation and digital revolution. The outcome of the Zondo Commission is also affecting many business processes. Many people are being faced with carrying out multiple roles and tasks being performed by a singular person. Disruption is the order of the day. Karabo also touched on the evolution in the workplace from basic equipment like the typewriter in the 1950s to electric typewriters, cassette tapes & Dictaphones in the 1970s. The 1980s brought on the handheld cellphone, fax machines and printers and eventually the 1990s ushered in what we’re all more familiar with, with the likes of the internet, email and finally tablets/smartphones. The Google glasses cemented the coming together of Man & Technology.

Disruptive technology is any new technology that completely displaces existing technology and revolutionizes the product or industry it is introduced in. Both the tech and process is disrupted. Big Data is used against profiling customers. New concepts like usage-based insurance, IoT, gamification, robo-advisory, blockchain & micro-insurance are already being adopted within our industry. These technologies allow for providing customers with incentives for example telematics used by Discovery Vitality encouraging their clients to drive better.

Many companies are re-thinking their strategies and Karabo unpacked this by illustrating the examples set out by Standard Bank’s “Ambition 2025”, Vodacom’s “Sustainability” campaign and Anglo Platinum’s “FutureSmart Mining” initiative to enhance safety and sustainability. Most JSE-listed companies are going through this refreshing of their business strategies. It is Not Business as Usual, and it is imperative we take charge of our careers and understand the disruption in business.

 

Some of the forces driving changes in the industry or the future of work are:

  • New customer expectations
  • New business models
  • Task distribution
  • Change in demographics
  • Skills of the future
  • Distributed workforce

 

How we engage with customers internally & externally has already changed and has to be accelerated in the adoption of technical automation of current work activities. The bigger impact of adoption of technology is the replacement of the workforce. A few ways to keep oneself relevant is to look at adopting the top ten skills for 2025, for example, analytical thinking and innovation, active learning and learning strategies, complex problem solving, critical thinking and analysis, creativity, originality and initiative, leadership and social influence, technology use, monitoring and control, technology design and programming, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility, reasoning, problem-solving and ideation. At least 40% of the current workforce skills are expected to change in the next 5 years. Only 6% of South Africans have a university degree. Disruption may bring an inconvenience, but it also brings about an opportunity to upskill oneself and one’s business.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn

Alvin Toffler

The career S Curve is no longer an organic progression or growth but is being disrupted by technology and is mainly a result of digital response.

Standard Bank has made a strategic decision to use “Salesforce” and registered 80% of their workforce onto this platform and 20,000 of their employees are at Ranger Status. The CEO himself lead by example and was one of the first to get certified.

 

Unlearning is probably one of the most difficult to implement. Unlearning your self-identity, knowledge and assumption, skills that no longer serve you as well as habits and behaviours.

Emotional intelligence is no longer optional, and one has to relearn this type of communication and teach ourselves to be curious again.

 

Karabo ended her discussion with valuable advice that if we want to future-proof ourselves in a disruptive environment, we must embrace learning, unlearning and relearning through:

  • Focus on changing trends
  • Challenge confirmation bias
  • Develop a growth mindset
  • Ask questions
  • Expand your network

The future belongs to those who see it coming – David Bowie

Thabo then thanked Karabo for her immensely insightful session and opened the platform to accommodate a brief Q&A.

Article written by Asiya Swaleh

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