Empowering a nation starts with empowering blue-collar workers

By Dawie Nel, CIO, Vulatel Group

As we navigate the 4th Industrial Revolution, we are met with a barrage of challenges. The technology landscape is ever-changing and driven by mass information requiring numerous iterations of computing, networks and business systems while strategically focusing on distributed cloud architecture and cloud-based services.

As business leaders, we are tasked with ensuring systems and technologies meet demand. Our focus is often blurred by the insatiable hunger for faster, better and more economical solutions. How do we ensure that skills development funding is not only consumed by white-collared workers but channelled to where it is really needed - the grassroots tradespeople who keep the lights on?.

With ageing infrastructure and diminishing budgets, we have to re-evaluate where we spend our time and energy because the systems, solutions and fast access networks still require a solid medium, built on masts and rooftops or under pavements and embankments. The need to connect still relies on tangible physical infrastructure. Data warehouses and cloud computing still require data centres.

Our focus should be on developing blue-collar workers, not just to perform the specific skill or job we have entrusted to them (this is essential) but to empower them to create businesses with sustainable technology.

There are some really good news stories of this happening, but with limited success. Often there is no follow-through. We upskill people, ensure they have some grasp on business and then leave them to fend for themselves.

Let’s focus on the development of the builders, diggers, climbers and plumbers, and inspire them to create businesses by ensuring they have excellent support structures and mentorship to sustain their businesses. More importantly, for these tradesmen and women to upskill and teach their employees the trade or craft, which will enable their businesses to thrive, and ultimately provide opportunities for their employees to create their own small businesses.

We are then truly empowering a nation.

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