As the student protests season descends upon South African institutions of higher learning, sadly costing one life already, a question arises if the country’s youth is ready for a future of tech-related careers.
As the government embarks on a drive to attract over $100 billion worth of investment to the country over the next five years, the question is: will the country’s youth be ready to play their part by providing the skills required by the investors.
“The fourth industrial revolution is upon us, maybe to a lesser extent in South Africa than it is elsewhere. But we can’t wish it away and have to position our young people to leverage on it,” says Chris Hammond, a lecturer in Mpumalanga.
“The fourth industrial revolution is changing how we integrate technology into our lives, thanks to advances such as artificial intelligence (AI), nanotechnology and robotics. But what we should be concerned about the most is if we are ready to fit into the changes that it brings and how we can leverage on it for growth.”
Following are five tips to youths based on prevailing research across the world.
- Retraining will be an essential feature of the new employment landscape, in which many jobs will be automated. Jobs will not vanish, but will be redefined. Youths will need a new skills set for the new roles. With automation and new technologies, a lawyer today doesn’t develop systems that offer advice, but the lawyer of 2025 will. They’ll still be called lawyers but they’ll be doing different things.
- Routine, repetitive chores will soon fall away. Youths should consider taking up tech-savvy careers. Demand, particularly data science analytics and cybersecurity, will grow.
- Courses or modules on Artificial Intelligence (AI) come highly recommended. Courses are available to youths from all disciplines and teaches the theory underpinning AI, as well as practical experience of programming.
- Even if youths don’t end up working in AI, the skills they develop on such courses will be invaluable in an increasingly tech-driven jobs market.
- Pay more serious attention in the mathematics class, especially linear algebra and metrics. Have a proactive attitude. It might look complicated because it looks scientific, but there’s a lot of fluidity in the new tech world. A curious and open mind will get you far.