Enabling youth with 4IR skills is an investment in our economy

By Matome Madibana, MICT SETA CEO

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) refers to our current period of techno­logical development that is happening at an increasingly rapid rate. Technological advancement offers us an opportunity to bolster our economy exponentially. The most effective course of action as an industry and country would be to empower our youth with the necessary skills to grow and develop to keep pace with our rapidly changing world.

The 4IR has enabled the integration of systems and processes across multiple industries, not just those that are tech-oriented. This offers our youth opportunities regardless of the industry they find themselves in. The 4IR requires us to hone a different skills set than the one we have traditionally used. It includes complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity.

These skills are rare in our current market, yet to progress at the same rate as the rest of the world, we must embrace and adopt 4IR on a large-scale to take advantage of its many benefits.

One such benefit is the incredible potential for job creation as constant innovation breeds more industries requiring more skilled workers. Software development and cyber security are two examples of 4IR industries that have mush­roomed over the past two decades that need workers with adaptable skills and who are tech­nologically savvy. We must focus on the youth to grow our country’s skills base in the ICT and other sectors.

Implementing a solid 4IR skills development mandate for our youth is paramount to the success of future generations. Incorporating learnership programmes to assist with their development in fields like coding and artificial intelligence, among others, are some of the ways our youth are currently being upskilled. Still, there are many more avenues that can be explored as industries continue to change.

While our current education system has begun implementing more technologically-based learning, more must be done at the founda­tional level to integrate 4IR into educational practices so that it becomes a natural way of functioning. Getting the youth on this prosperous path today is essential to futureproofing our economy, enabling them to become financially independent and secure in the knowledge that they possess the critical skills needed to thrive.

MICT SETA would like to see 4IR technology to be the focal point of our youth’s growth and the economic imperative it deserves to be. Devel­oping new technological skills and innovation is vital to our economic survival, and 4IR is the clear path to fulfilling that mandate.

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