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The Future World of Work – in SA

I have often ‘poo poo’d, or downright ignored much of this narrative as it seemed to be shrouded in mystery…And the world of a robotic concierge completing all my annoying household tasks, still seems rather fantastical in a middle class home in South Africa.

However, I am currently engaged in a project with a client where automation does seem the order of the day, and the change required to meet the new world of work may indeed require a whole different set of skills.

So having a dominant ‘5 wing’ on my Enneagram, I dived in to the research to see what I could find…

First off was that Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) currently only captures 55% of its human capital potential, compared to a global average of 65%…

Probably no surprises there! Unlike the ageing populations of most of the first world, SSA is the world’s youngest region, with more than 60% under the age of 25. Which means that,

the continent’s working age population will increase to 600 million by 2030

What is imperative is that these 20 million young people have the necessary education and future skills to match the new ecosystem of work.

Closer to home in South Africa (SA) it is predicted that 41% of all work activities in SA are susceptible to automation.

This may be offset by our comparatively low labour costs, and hence a reluctance to automate (not to mention our dire employment stats) but our capacity to adapt to job disruption is highlighted as a concern. Employers on the other hand have identified an inadequately skilled workforce , with 39% of required core skills in SA, being entirely different across occupations by 2020.

So for each of this series of blogs, I’d like to try and make it practical and to attempt to answer some of the ‘what to do?’ response.

I think the first step is to start to introduce this conversation in the workplace, if you haven’t already, not to cause fear-mongering and ‘the robot stole my job’ scenario, but rather to introduce the possibility of being ‘freed up’ from the more menial tasks, so that you can focus on your key skills. (Who knows I might even have a BlogBot to draft my future blogs?!)

Secondly I think we need to start to look very critically at the skills we currently hold in the workplace and those we may need to engender. Although coaching is one of the professions not under immediate threat (cashiers and low level accountants are!) I continue to scan the horizon for smarter ways of working and am considering upskilling in the world of Scrum Mastering and Agile Coaching as a methodology of working in the new world of work. (Let me know if you have a view on this)

But what skills are we going to need to introduce to our work forces and how will they gain easy access?

Resilience comes to mind and I will continue to speak to that critical capability in the series to come. So until the next installment, I have probably already exceeded the average concentration span of our gold fish adult attention capacities!


2 responses to “The Future World of Work – in SA”

  1. Caren Falconer says:

    Karen, some gems here. I had a conversation with a Woolies cashier around using my bank card to tap it or insert it and then I off offhandedly said to her…, ” you will be out of a job soon.” She looked at me with absolute shock and after I explained what I meant about the shopper being able to scan and tap and go all by ourselves, she kind of smiled and said , : have a great day.” It was painfully obvious that the thought of her job becoming one of those obsolete ones had never crossed her mind nor her bosses , or at least he / she was keeping quite quiet about it all.

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