By Ian Houvet, Managing Director, Boxfusion
Education is a critical cornerstone of any society. But those of us living in and witnessing the 4th Industrial Revolution (also known as the Digital Age) are increasingly becoming aware of just how much digital innovations are reshaping our world. So much so that it is estimated that at least a third of future jobs do not exist yet.
This statistic raises questions around how we prepare children and students for the future workplace. How will AI impact the kind of work future generations will perform, especially as consumer needs change and industries shift? And how can we instil in them a love for life-long learning that will help them to adapt and survive in a shifting world?
This is a particularly key question in a country like South Africa. We already have an inherited skills gap and historical educational challenges like access and affordability. Adding into this environment is increased emphasis on the study of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects in order to prepare children for a future we can’t imagine yet.
While it is true that children will need these essential skills, they will also need interdisciplinary skills, like a deep understanding of human psychology and sociology in order to navigate a world where robots do a large part of the work that humans do now.
This is something we often see when rolling-out our digital solutions to the public sector. While a lot of the previously-paper-based processes now become automated, increasing emphasis is placed on having a diversified range of skills, and a comprehensive knowledge of how to use new technology to best serve South African citizens on a daily basis.
Boxfusion is one of the companies that is working on creating a digitised future. The good news is that a 2017 report by Gartner has highlighted that AI could potentially create more jobs than it kills. In the meantime, we take our responsibility for upskilling and educating South Africa’s next generation seriously.
As part of this obligation, we undertake to teach young students just out of university a range of technological and client-facing skills in the Boxfusion offices. From coding and designing apps, to liaising with those that we sell our products to, we’re helping young South Africans to not only develop interdisciplinary skills, but to give them real workplace experience that will help propel them into their futures.
While that may still be unknown, what we do know is that businesses in the tech space can take it upon themselves today, not only to help create the future of tomorrow, but to equip young South Africans with the skills that they will need to thrive in that imminent space.