Cyril Ramaphosa: South Africa needs to prepare for jobs of the future

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his June 2019 State of the Nation Address.
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his June 2019 State of the Nation Address.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed the need for an improved education system in preparation for the fourth industrial revolution.

Ramaphosa believes schools will have to introduce subjects which are aligned with the ever-changing technological sector.

“As I undertook in SONA, we are introducing subjects such as coding and data analytics at primary school level to prepare our young people for the jobs of the future,” the president said.

Ramaphosa was delivering the keynote address at the Fourth Industrial Revolution Digital Economy Summit (4IRSA) in Midrand on Friday morning, while a holographic projection was viewed by attendees at the Rustenburg Civic Centre in the North West.

He highlighted some government initiatives which would assist in driving the fourth industrial revolution in South Africa.

One of the initiatives is Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams’ “Building a Capable 4IR Army” capacity development programme, which aims to train one million young people in data science and related skills by 2030. The other is the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) plan to build essential capability in all technology areas.

Ramaphosa explained that there are many sectors in the country which could benefit from the industrial revolution and drive a digital economy.

“With these technological innovations, we will develop systems to improve our resources efficiencies in various sectors such as health, utilities, crime prevention, education, transport and others to ensure better service delivery,” he said.

The president announced that government would be setting up a task team to pioneer new technologies and take “quantum leaps” towards the economies of the future.

The Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s deputy chairperson will be University of Johannesburg Vice-Chancellor and artificial intelligence expert Professor Tshilidzi Marwala.

The body will explore and advise on infrastructure and resources, research, technology and innovation, economic and social impact, human capital and future of work.

It is expected to deliver a blueprint and plan to deal with the 4IR and determine areas of development. This is part of a vision to position South Africa as a leader of 4IR in the world.

“This is doable indeed, considering that earlier this year our country was ranked by the Dell Digital Transformation Index to be among Top 10 countries leading the digital transformation change necessary to compete in the 21st century,” Ramaphosa said

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