Capital Equipment News June 2018



I was recently part of a media dele- gation that attended President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to Volvo Trucks South Africa’s assembly facility in Durban, where he commended Volvo Group Southern Africa for being one of the few companies with an understanding that it’s not enough to invest in factories, machin- ery and supply chains, but also in skills development. As you will see in this edition of Capital Equipment News , since 2015, Volvo Group Southern Africa has invested more than R86-million in apprenticeship training, the

automotive industry and disabled persons learnerships and internships. The company is planning to invest a further R25-million into the same initiatives during 2018. During the course of this year, the Swedish company will also establish a specialised Driver Training Academy to address the shortage of skilled drivers in the region, at an investment of R1,4-million. We should commend Volvo for its efforts in skills development for the youth of South Africa. The huge capital investments in this worthy cause are based on the company’s understanding that a successful company cannot exist if the society around it is failing. Bear in mind that South Africa’s unemployment rate currently stands at over 25%, with even higher rates for youth, at more than 50%, according to the World Economic Forum. It is critical that South Africa turns its fast-growing young population into a dividend rather than a burden. Education and training for future skills is a critical part of realising that potential. The root of unemployment is not only a lack of jobs; a key underlying factor is also the inadequately educated workforce. And this challenge is likely to increase in the coming years due to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterised by fast-paced technological progress combined with other socio-economic and demographic changes, which will further transform labour markets. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs study, the result could be a net loss of over 5-million jobs in 15 major developed and emerging economies – including South Africa. These patterns may even be more intensified in other African economies, unless all key stakeholders start pulling together as a matter of urgency. While government, business and labour are starting to pull together to tackle the big elephant in the room – skills shortage – in order to reduce the scourge of youth unemployment, there is also need for a balance between honing attributes that have always been valued in the workplace

and learning to breed new skills the workplace needs, now and into the future. The Future of Jobs study highlights that skills demand will change significantly over the next five years, pointing at the importance of aligning education with skills needed in the labour force. The same view is shared by Professor Brian Armstrong, BCX chair in digital business at Wits Business School, who is worried that a lot of skills development initiatives being pushed at this stage are about the transfer of specific knowledge. He reasons that what is more important now is helping people help themselves to learn. There is need to harness the ability to reinvent ourselves over and over, thereby staying relevant in this fast-changing world. The skills development initiatives of the day seem to be executed with an industrial economy in mind, but we have since moved into an information economy, and it’s definitely time for a change. It’s difficult to predict whether, or when, these traditional skills will become obsolete, but I agree with Alvin Toffler’s viewpoint that the “illiterate of the 21 st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”. At the height of the current technological revolution, the skills world is changing rapidly; technical skill and content are no longer enough. Both schools and technical training institutions should be able to develop individuals who are comfortable with complexity and not having the answers. The vast majority of what we now call knowledge work – routine, methodological and fact-based – will be done by computers. Not primarily because they are cheaper, but because they are faster, make fewer mistakes and scale quicker. In a world where repetitive tasks are strategies should aim to develop creative thinkers, innovators, risk-takers and problem solvers. Emphasising these attributes will help create a skills pool that is less vulnerable to automation. handled by technology and artificial intelligence, our skills development

Munesu Shoko – Editor



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