Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist


South Africans must prepare for jobs of the future – here’s how

We often hear about jobs that will become redundant in the future, so how do you prepare for the jobs that do not exist yet?


The world of work is changing super-fast due to factors such as globalisation, digitisation, and the rise of the consumer and artificial intelligence, which means 65% of children entering school now will likely work in jobs that have not yet been created.

South Africa must prepare for the future world of work by developing future-proof skills that will facilitate economic growth to enable businesses to compete in local and international markets. An advanced workforce will also make South Africa an attractive investment destination and allow us to stop importing skills, Sherrie Donaldson, project director at BRICS Future Skills, says.

It is estimated that between 50 and 70 of current jobs will also be lost to technological advances.

“Our BRICS partners are moving faster than us to develop relevant skills for the new economy. Unless we catch up, we will sit with a skills gap.”

How do we go about getting ready? Donaldson says we have to identify the skills, create the roadmap and implement programmes to build the skills.

There are a number of steps to develop a future-ready workforce: 

  • Develop a roadmap of skills required:  Analysing, forecasting and shaping future skills is a critical component in the rapidly changing world of work. South Africa is leveraging a number of BRICS partnerships, such as helping to develop the South African Atlas of Emerging Jobs in several sectors to ensure we can meet the demand for these skills.
  • Build curricula and standards for international best practice: We can leverage BRICS relationships to develop curricula and standards for training in future skills.
  • Skills training: One way to do this is by participating in annual online BRICS Future Skills Challenges or hackathons.
  • Measure effectiveness of training programmes: Participating in Future Skills Challenges allows us to develop the required skills and benchmark standards. We also need to create skills programmes to uplift those already in the workforce.

ALSO READ: SA needs to build skills to increase employability and staff retention – PwC

Progress in growing the right local skills

The BRICS Skills Challenge, which is aimed at preparing the youth of member countries for future jobs, will be held in South Africa next year. This year’s challenge is hosted by China and 240 people, across 17 skills areas, are on the South African team.

Young people aged between 16 and 35 from BRICS countries, with skills in robotic process automation, mobile app development, data science, digital factory, cyber security and many other skills take part as individuals or teams in the online hackathon held from 1 to 6 November.

Participants are trained and exposed to real-world case studies where they solve problems in their specific skills area and design a solution with the support of experts.

Government agencies and companies also get the opportunity to become involved and be noticed for what they offer.

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