Intelligent CIO Africa Issue 21 - Page 46

CIO opinion “ WHAT’S IMPORTANT FOR US IN SOUTH AFRICA, AND THE CONTINENT, IS TO REALISE THAT THERE IS PLENTY OF WORK THAT ONLY HUMANS CAN DO. literacy skills, and providing robust technical and vocational education and training (TVET). This will take significant intent not only from a policy point of view, but also the financial means to fund this. None of this will happen overnight. So, what can we, as individuals and businesspeople, do in the meantime? A good start would be to realise that the old models of learning and work are broken. Jenny Dearborn, SAP’s Global Head of Learning, talks about how the old approach to learning and work was generally a three-stage life that consisted largely of learn-work-retire. alone, 39% of core skills required across all occupations will be different by 2020 compared to what was needed to perform those roles in 2015. Today, we live in what Dearborn calls the multi-stage life, which includes numerous phases of learn-work-change-learn-work. And where before, the learning was often by rote, because information was finite, learning now is all about critical thinking, complex problem-solving, creativity and innovation and even the ability to un-learn what you have learned before. This is a huge wake-up call to companies to invest meaningfully in on-the-job training to keep their people – and themselves – relevant in this new digital age. There’s no doubt that more learning will need to take place in the workplace, and greater private sector involvement is needed. As employers, we must start working closely with schools, universities and even non-formal education to provide learning opportunities to our workers. Helping instill this culture of lifelong learning, including the provision of adult training and upskilling infrastructure, is something that all companies can do, starting now. The research is clear – even if jobs are stable or growing, they are going through major changes to their skills profile. WEF’s Future of Jobs analysis found that, in South Africa We can also drive a far stronger focus on the so-called ‘soft skills’, which is often used as a slightly dismissive term in the workplace. The core skills needed in today’s workplace are active listening, speaking, and critical thinking. A quick look at the WEF’s 21st Century skills required for the future of work chart bears this out; as much as we need literacy, numeracy 46 INTELLIGENTCIO and IT skills to make sense of the modern world of work, we also need innately human skills like communication and collaboration. The good news is that not only can these be taught – but they can be taught within the work environment. It sounds almost counter-intuitive, but to be successful in the Digital Age, businesses are going to have to go back to what has always made them strong – their people. Everyone can buy AI, build data warehouses and automate every process in sight. The companies that will stand out will be those that focus on the things that can’t be duplicated by AI or machine learning – uniquely human skills. I have no doubt that the future will not be humans or robots – it will be humans and robots, working side by side. For us, as businesspeople and children of the African continent, we’re on the brink of a major opportunity. We just have to grasp it. n