Government commits to digital skills revolution

26th July 2019

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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South Africa is committing to the delivery of a ‘skills revolution’ to enable human capital to match the rapid evolution of the digital economy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa promised the training of one-million youth in data science and related skills by 2030, as well as the embedding of critical digital subjects within the basic education system.

“We are introducing subjects such as coding and data analytics at primary school level to prepare our people for the jobs of the future,” Ramaphosa says.

“The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) has taken a conscious decision to ensure that, at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) conversation, [lies] a people-centred response that speaks to jobs, skills and broad economic participation,” adds Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

“Thus, we have endeavoured to ensure that skills development is an important pillar to position the nation for 4IR,” she assures.

Speaking at the recent Digital Economy Summit, University of the Witwatersrand vice chancellor and principal Professor Adam Habib said that scholars needed to be trained to deal with the known and unexpected challenges of the twenty-first century.

“We need to work across sectors to develop the technology required for us to leapfrog across eons of poverty, unemployment and inequality, and, in so doing, create a new world order that prioritises humanity before profits and power.”

Government is working closely with sector education and training authorities and various partners to develop systems to improve resources and efficiencies in various sectors, such as health, utilities, crime prevention, education and transport, besides others, to improve service delivery.

The DCDT previously commissioned a digital skills study which showed that skills such as artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data, cybersecurity, digital communications, digital modelling, machine learning, mechatronics and cloud computing would be required to equip South Africans for future occupations.

“That is why we have developed initiatives such as the Building a Capable 4IR Army programme – to ensure that our communities, especially the youth, are equipped to take advantage of new digital technologies, unlock future jobs and drive competitiveness,” Ndabeni-Abrahams adds.

Further, the Department of Science and Innovation is contributing to building the required capabilities through support programmes, such as the South African Research Chairs Initiative and other targeted human capital and development initiatives.

These include programmes in data science, analytics, additives manufacturing, AI, robotics and quantum technologies.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



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