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Preparing today’s youth to lead tomorrow’s workplaces

This June, as we celebrate our youth and the huge strives young people have made in addressing societal and other challenges in the past, we must also anticipate the challenges they will face in the future – in the workplace.

This June, as we celebrate our youth and the huge strives young people have made in addressing societal and other challenges in the past, we must also anticipate the challenges they will face in the future – in the workplace.

As we transition into the fourth industrial era, technological trends such as machine learning, automation, big data analytics, cloud computing, and the Internet of things are reshaping the modern workplace, enabling employees to do more in less time, while using fewer resources. Moreover, these same trends are allowing companies to bring products to the markets quicker, target customers better, enter new markets and market segments, make their business processes more efficient, and automate redundant tasks.

According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) The Future of Jobs Report 2018, new technologies will create 133 million new jobs, while wiping out 75 million redundant roles thanks to amongst others, automation. Human interaction and face to face conversation and exchanges are diminishing.

During Youth Month in South Africa, the IIE MSA, formerly Monash South Africa and now a brand of The Independent Institute of Education (the IIE), takes a look at ways through which the youth of today, can be better prepared to find employment in the modern workplace or become entrepreneurs whose startups create employment opportunities for their peers.

This is particularly crucial since data from Statistics South Africa’s latest (Q1 2019) Quarterly Labour Force Survey show that the number of youth, between the ages of 15 and 24 years, who were not working, studying, or enrolled in training courses has grown to 3,4 million.

One way the youth can ensure that their skillsets, knowledge and experience stays relevant in the modern workplace is through continuous education. For instance, Garter predicts that by 2020, a fifth of operational bank staff engaged in back-office activities will rely on artificial intelligence for non-routine tasks such as reviewing financial contracts. This automation in some quarters has been seen in South Africa recently, with numerous branches of local banks closing their doors, meaning customers must reply primarily on online/cellphone banking. Doing a programme specialising in innovative leadership at IIE MSA for example, will enable employees, particularly managers, to be abreast of these kinds of work environment changes and prepare their business for them.

In addition, students who still need to decide what to study should look at the skills gap in the market and tailor their choice, of course, to where the need in the market and their interests align. According to above-mentioned The Future of Jobs Report 2018, software and applications developers and analysts are listed as emerging job roles required within South Africa. IIE MSA offer programmes (even short learning programmes) in both web and mobile development.

“By continuously reskilling and upskilling themselves, the youth of today equip themselves with the knowledge and skillsets to make themselves more valuable to employers. Moreover, graduates gain the competencies they require to lead change within their respective industries, and shape the future of their careers,” says Prof Alwyn Louw, President and Academic President of IIE MSA.

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