South Africa needs to embrace the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution or risk being less competitive globally, says Deputy President David Mabuza.
The Deputy President said this when answering questions at the National Council of Provinces on Thursday afternoon.
He said last month, in his Capacity as the Chairperson of the Human Resource Development Council, he hosted the third HRDC Summit stakeholders, which discussed how to develop new networks, strengthen existing partnerships, and share the latest lessons through education and skills transfer.
The stakeholders, the Deputy President said, also looked at how governments can transform their economies in light of emerging trends in global economy, especially the implications of what is termed as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“At that Summit, a point was made that the pace of change over the last few years has largely been shaped by technological disruption and innovation.
“These disruptions have an equal impact on the current set of jobs in the market. This means that as we continue to focus on skills development, we must bear in mind that even jobs that were considered as vocational, are now becoming high tech and require specialised knowledge and skills.
“This reality suggests that digital disruption will impact on how we do things. Therefore, as South Africa we need to embrace this global trend or risk becoming less competitive on the global stage. As part of this embrace, our training and skills development must be accelerated to keep up with the pace of change,” he said.
He said that the Department of Science and Technology is currently investing in the technological building blocks of this revolution.
On this end, the department will develop a public-funded science, technology and innovation plan of action over the next 12-18 months for socio-economic impact in the context of this revolution.
“Through smart investments in research and development, the Department of Science and Technology is supporting South African industry to grow and create more jobs through building scientific, technological and knowledge-based capabilities,” he said.
The Deputy President also said that government needs a private sector that is engaged so that as a country, everyone involved can unlock the full potential of education and training sector.
“Future value creation lies in humans and machines working together to create new user experiences, new products, new services, and new possibilities.
“We must therefore put relevant programmes in place to develop the necessary skills through rethinking education systems and incentivising lifelong learning. This is why investment in early childhood development is critical.
“For its part, the Human Resource Development Council has held roadshows to create awareness regarding the HRD Strategy towards 2030 with various structures, including the Provincial Human Resource Development Forums, Provincial Human Resource Development Councils, Provincial Skills Development Forums, Public Sector Trainers Forum; and Human Resource Development Provincial Coordination forums.”