Image: The University of Cape Town (UCT).Picture: Tracey Adams/ANA
JOHANNESBURG - Today’s world is faster and much more diverse than it once was.  The evolutionary process, to bring the next generation of innovations to life requires an ingenious and resourceful way of thinking, combining rapid prototyping with production and social inclusion with skills development. 

Currently, one of the most-debated topics influencing innovation is digitalization and its’ impact on the future of employment.  It is met with equal parts excitement and trepidation. No matter how you look at it, digital transformation and a truly connected global economy are already upon us. 

According to The Future of Jobs, a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), it’s expected that, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to jobs today. 

Consistent and relevant upskilling is the key to ensuring the workforce keeps pace and is prepared for the evolving employment landscape.

Keshin Govender Siemens AG, Southern and Eastern Africa Communications Head writes about the future of innovation and skills in Africa. (File Picture: ANA)
Digitalization will only succeed if it is inclusive, which means the emerging workforce needs the opportunity to gain digital skills. African countries urgently need young people with digital skills in order to thrive in this digital, knowledge-based global economy.
The report goes on to say, it is critical that businesses take an active role in supporting their current workforces through re-training, that individuals take a proactive approach to their own lifelong learning and that governments create the enabling environment, rapidly and creatively, to assist their efforts. 

Siemens in Africa has for many years been an active contributor and supporter of education and skills development on the continent. 

We are working closely with industry and governments to develop the talents to complement our education initiatives. And we believe this Business to Society approach will create measurable and lasting impact. 

One of the company’s most recent commitments to sustainable skills development is the handover of industrial automation equipment to 13 engineering faculties at universities and colleges in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya.   The value of the equipment is close to R5.5 million. 

Enabling students to train on the most advanced technology available, will provide graduates, and therefore the emerging workforce, with the skills necessary to effectively lead large-scale digitalization across the continent, resulting in long-term benefits to economic growth. 

Every few generations there is a seismic change that moves humanity forward. Think of how steam power, then the car and electricity changed the way things are done. Now we have the Fourth Industrial Revolution on our doorstep, and if history has taught us anything it’s that those who embrace change will succeed. 

According to the WEF report, 65% of children entering primary school now will end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist today. With jobs evolving at this rate, it’s almost impossible to follow ‘traditional’ methods of studying for a few years in preparation for a life-long career. Initial studies are still vital, but it’s up to all stakeholders to ensure skills development is an ongoing process to stay ahead of the curve.

There is an opportunity, especially in Africa, to embrace new and exponential technologies combined with human talent to accelerate industrialization and drive economic growth. We call this Ingenuity for life. 

Keshin Govender is the Siemens AG, Southern and Eastern Africa Communications Head.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.