'Love thy labour' is a weekly column published in the Cape Argus, written by labour law expert Michael Bagraim. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency/ANA
We keep hearing from the business community and the universities about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In essence this refers to the computerisation of the business community and the fact that many jobs are being more and more mechanised and controlled by computers.

There is also a new way of doing business which is starting to affect businesses and their staffing requirements.

Obviously the one way the youth can make themselves employable in the future is by getting as much computer experience as possible and by taking subjects such as maths science and computer science.

We have been warned that many jobs are going to disappear, and we are already seeing more and more adverts for specialised individuals.

Many of the jobs that require repetitive application are becoming redundant and we are starting to see many factories which have been able to mechanise and therefore decimate their staff.

In a county such as South Africa which has an incredibly high unemployment rate, and in particular over 50% of our youth are unemployed, we need to be very careful about how people are schooled and trained for the future workforce.

One way of ensuring that we have trained people in these highly sophisticated jobs is to bring in foreigners on condition that these foreigners train locals and each business guarantees open jobs for at least three or four other people for each imported worker.

This will in turn create more employment, more turnover and hopefully more profit. The net result will be that we will have South Africans who are trained into those specialised positions.

Obviously our Department of Labour has to have a complete restructure on the way the Department assesses work permits for foreigners. Hopefully this assessment will match the requirements of the economy.

We all know that all employees, regardless of their background and their abilities, are entitled to the protection of our labour law.

We also know that this protection is enshrined in our forward-thinking constitution.

However, as business evolves and as positions become more technical, it is sometimes difficult for a staff member to understand who is the actual employer and who we work for.

Although our South African labour legislation is desperately trying to outlaw outsourcing and labour brokers, this is an area of employment that is growing in leaps and bounds.

When I travel abroad I constantly engage with individuals who are working for a third party who isn’t their actual employer.

As currently advised in South Africa, anyone who works at the labour brokers client for more than three months and who is earning under R17 300 a month, they become the employee of the client.

This concept is still being tested in our labour law.

*Michael Bagraim is a labour lawyer.

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

Cape Argus