Eighty percent of South Africa’s workforce believe the current job market is tougher than it was 10 years ago.
CAPE TOWN - Eighty  percent of South Africa’s workforce believe the current job market is tougher than it was 10 years ago and just over 20 percent of workers believe their current skills will keep them employed over the next decade.

This is according to a new study conducted by MasterStart, an online learning solutions provider for academic institutions.

The research report has found that just 23.8 percent of working South Africans believe their  current skills will keep them employed in ten years’ time and with the Fourth Industrial Revolution accelerating the pace of change in the world of work, most South Africans are looking to ‘future-proof’ their careers and believe lifelong learning is the key to retaining relevancy.

The survey, based on a sample group of over 1 000 people across varying demographics and industries, the MasterStart South African Workforce Barometer, uncovered that, while artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) are on the radar, other factors are currently seen as more immediate factors impacting job retention.
MasterStart chief executive, Andrew Johnston, said South Africa’s workforce is concerned about the study’s research which showed that people are aware that frequent upskilling and reskilling will help them in remaining relevant and employable.

“In a country where unemployment is an ongoing issue, it’s imperative that we empower people to future-proof their careers by making lifelong opportunities continuously accessible in order to bridge critical capability gaps and compete with global standards,” said Johnston.

He said pivotal findings in the report include that 80 percent of the people surveyed believed the job market to be tougher now than it was ten years ago; age was referenced most frequently as a barrier to future employment, especially for those over 50 and lack of skills in younger people were seen as the most prohibiting factor; just under half felt they’d been held back by lack of skills, 30 percent of participants in IT and tech were completely confident their skills would survive the ten year test while those in other industries were noticeably less secure; close to a quarter of respondents felt AI had already impacted their industry with just 20 percent said they were completely comfortable sharing their workload with robots or processes automated by AI, 18-24 year-olds had the highest level of unease about this.

Johnston said that while the barometer found a workforce in a somewhat sombre mood, positively, people were putting plans in place to learn further to acquire the skills they need.

“This shows a workforce that’s committed to continuously learning the new hard and soft skills that’ll entrench the adaptability required to survive the breakneck pace of the workplace. Given  the competitiveness of the market, which will only increase with the rise of automation, having a sought-after skillset is the best way to guarantee ongoing job retention. Our research shows that South Africans are hungry to learn, so companies that provide this opportunity will have a greater chance of talent retention, and attraction,” said Johnston.

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