Firstly, the pace of the advancement of the Forth Industrial Revolution is anticipated over the next 20 years (a single generation).

Previously Industrial Revolutions spanned three or four generations or 60 – 80 years.

Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A Osborne, have estimated that 47% of US jobs are at high risk from the changes that are underway due to digitisation and automation.

Can you just imagine what the impact will be in South Africa?

In this environment it is important to understand what jobs people will have and what skills they will need to succeed.

I have my doubts as to whether Agriculture will offer relief to the unemployment situation in South Africa.

All Industrial Revolutions have shifted employment substantially.

If we use the US as a barometer in their agricultural labour force, in the 2nd Industrial Revolution 41% of the US labour force was in agriculture, by 1970 it dropped to 4% as the 3rd Industrial Revolution advanced and is less than 2% today.

The impact of this shift in job creation with the Forth Industrial Revolution will be a far wider set of industries and a far wider set of workers.

It has been proposed that there should be two sets of strategies to prepare ourselves and our children for this inevitable shift in work opportunities:

  1. The first is to invest in building and developing skills linked to science, technology and design so that we equip the world with people able to work alongside ever-smarter machines, thus being augmented rather than replaced by technology.
  2. The second strategy is to focus more on those qualities that make us uniquely human rather than machines – in particular traits such as empathy, inspiration, belonging, creativity and sensitivity. In this way we can reinforce and highlight essential sources of the value created by and within communities that is often completely overlooked in economic measurement – the act of caring for one another.

Applying these suggestions to South Africa, the writer has been proposing at length and for some time that communities should form among themselves of their own free will, across all divides, to gather either for geographic collaboration or interest collaboration to implement the second strategy proposed here.

Besides the camaraderie, sense of care and belonging the communities will be able to pool resources in their best interests of the welfare of themselves and their children in our quest to attain not only competitiveness but to be able to do so.

(To be continued in Part Six.)

Source and acknowledgement:

Nicholas Davis, Head of Society and Innovation, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum