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How to prepare for the future of work

With the fast changing 21st Century we now live in, it becomes a concerning factor to think about how developed and fast-paced the world will be in the near future. Professor ALWYN LOUW; President and Academic President; Monash South Africa, takes a look into what we can expect in the year 2028, taking into consideration factors like the fourth industrial revolution and robots.

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For most people, the year 2028 seems like the very distant future. But when you consider that 18 years have already passed since the prospect of a new millennium had the world in a panic over what would happen to their computers and data, the next 10 years is sure to fly by at a similarly eye-watering pace.

Interestingly, while the number of days per year is never going to change, the pace at which the world changes every day is guaranteed to keep accelerating. And while it’s possible that predictions of driverless cars, wearable cellphones, and voice controlled appliances will have become our lifestyle realities in 2028, the one area in which complete transformation is guaranteed is the world of work.

Thanks to a combination of elements, not least of which are rapid technological evolution, massive urbanisation, and fast-diminishing energy, water and food resources, the relationship between industry and broader society is set to quickly and radically change. This is the true impact of the so-called fourth industrial revolution. Not just that the role of technology is growing; but that this increasing technological impact demands a completely new way of thinking about the work we do, and the impact we have on society through it.

Of course, it’s very difficult to contemplate this future when we can’t really define it. For example, it’s been posited by numerous trend analysts that the hottest, most sought-after jobs in 2028 don’t yet even exist. Then there are the other transformative forces that will shape the way we work in a decade’s time, the most notable of which are almost certain to be the prioritisation of innovation over function; the massive growth of large corporations, but the shrinking of physical work spaces as remote and contract employment arrangements reduce on-site staff counts; and the rising importance of social and environmental sustainability commitments as the essential cornerstones of employee, employer, customer and investor value propositions.

Most analysts broadly agree that these workplace changes are inevitable, but the one area in which futurists appear unable to reach consensus is whether or not the stellar advances in artificial intelligence and automation will mean that, in 10 years’ time, robots are performing the majority of functions currently done by humans in the workplace. While this is understandably a source of worry for those who feel their roles could be done by robots, the fear of robotics advances is typically tempered by the argument that the rise of technology and artificial intelligence will, in fact, create untold new work opportunities. These will, however, be very different in shape, form and function from the jobs most people currently hold.

All of this begs the question: How can the learners and students of today ensure that they are prepared for future work roles that can’t yet even be clearly defined? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. There’s also no denying that universities, governments and employers have a vital role to play in helping today’s students become tomorrow’s thriving employees, managers and leaders.

The first, and arguably most important step towards delivering on that responsibility is to focus less on leveraging technology and automation as merely a means to greater profitability, and more on how the workforce of the future might engage with technology for the mutual benefit of corporations and society.

Ultimately, it matters little what the world looks like in 10, or 20 or even 100 years’ time. What’s really important is that the people who live and work in that world have been equipped to stay firmly in touch with their human-ness. So, while robots may be doing a lot of the work, and the concept of full-time employment for life will probably have become somewhat archaic, the focus of the workplace should, and will, always be on people. More specifically, that focus will need to be on how to best equip and enable employees to engage with technology to achieve the types and levels of outputs that we probably cannot even contemplate today.

This means that preparing today’s young people to be productive employees tomorrow requires a shift in education focus, and employment criteria, from purely academic-based learning outcomes to the demonstrable ability to access and leverage knowledge, acquire, adapt and grow skills sets, and engage meaningfully with others and the world at large. Because, while competition, capitalism and commoditisation may well be at all-time highs by 2028, an agile and innovative human workforce, with a sincere commitment to ethics, sustainability, fairness and the greater good, will ultimately always differentiate the successful future organisation from the failed one.

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News fatigue shifts Google searches in SA

Google search trends in South Africa reveal a startling insight into news appetite, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The big searches of the year no longer track the biggest news stories of the year, suggesting a strong dose of news fatigue among South Africans.

“People ask, why are the Guptas not on the list of Google’s top searches?, says Mich Atagana, head of communications and public affairs at Google South Africa, “The Guptas are not on the list because South Africans are not actually that interested. South Africans are looking for things they don’t know. From a Gupta point of view, we’ve been exhausted by the news and we know exactly what is going on.”

Google South Africa announced the results of its 2018 Year in Search, offering a unique perspective on the year’s major moments.

“Four years ago, there were almost no South Africans on the personalities list,” says Atagana. “Over the years, South Africans have gotten more interested in South Africa, in searching on Google.”

That isn’t to say that international searches – like Meghan Markle – are not heavily searched by South Africans. But  they feature lower down on the lists.

From the World Cup to listeriosis, Zuma and Global Citizen, South Africans use search to find the things they really need to know.

These are the main trends revealed  by Google this week:

Top trending South African searches

  1. World Cup fixtures
  2. Load shedding
  3. Global Citizen
  4. Zuma
  5. Winnie Mandela
  6. HHP
  7. Listeriosis
  8. Black Panther
  9. Meghan Markle
  10. Mac Miller

Trending personalities

  1.    Jacob Zuma
  2. Cyril Ramaphosa
  3. Sbahle Mpisane
  4. Kevin Anderson
  5. Malusi Gigaba
  6. Ashwin Willemse
  7. Patrice Motsepe
  8. Cheryl Zondi
  9. Shamila Batohi
  10. Mlindo the Vocalist

Top Questions

  1. How did Avicii die?
  2. How old is Pharrell Williams?
  3. What is listeriosis?
  4. What is black data?
  5. How old is Prince Harry?
  6. How much are Global Citizen tickets?
  7. How to get pregnant?
  8. What time is the royal wedding?
  9. What happened to HHP?
  10. How old is Meghan Markle?

Top ‘near me’ searches

  1. Jobs near me
  2. Nandos near me
  3. Dischem near me
  4. McDonalds near me
  5. Guest house near me
  6. Postnet near me
  7. Steers near me
  8. Spar near me
  9. Debonairs near me
  10. Spur near me

Top women

  1. Winnie Mandela
  2. Meghan Markle
  3. Sbahle Mpisane
  4. Aretha Franklin
  5. Khloe Kardashian
  6. Sophie Ndaba
  7. Cheryl Zondi
  8. Demi Lovato
  9. Lerato Sengadi
  10. Siam Lee

The Year In Search 2018 minisite can be found here.

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Smartphones dip in 2018

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to decline by 3% in 2018 before returning to low single-digit growth in 2019 and through 2022.

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While the on-going U.S.-China trade war has the industry on edge, IDC still believes that continued developments from emerging markets, mixed with potential around 5G and new product form factors, will bring the smartphone market back to positive growth.

Smartphone shipments are expected to drop to 1.42 billion units in 2018, down from 1.47 billion in 2017. However, IDC expects year-over-year shipment growth of 2.6% in 2019. Over the long-term, smartphone shipments are forecast to reach 1.57 billion units in 2022. From a geographic perspective, the China market, which represented 30% of total smartphone shipments in 2017, is finally showing signs of recovery. While the world’s largest market is still forecast to be down 8.8% in 2018 (worse than the 2017 downturn), IDC anticipates a flat 2019, then back to positive territory through 2022. The U.S. is also forecast to return to positive growth in 2019 (up 2.1% year over year) after experiencing a decline in 2018.

The slow revival of China was one of the reasons for low growth in Q3 2018 and this slowdown will persist into Q1 2019 as the market is expected to drop by 3% in Q4 2018. Furthermore, the recently lifted U.S. ban on ZTE had an impact on shipments in Q3 2018 and created a sizable gap that is yet to be filled heading into 2019.

“With many of the large global companies focusing on high-end product launches, hoping to draw in consumers looking to upgrade based on specifications and premium devices, we can expect head-to-head competition within this segment during the holiday quarter and into 2019 to be exceptionally high,” said Sangeetika Srivastava, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.

Though 2018 has fallen below expectations so far, the worldwide smartphone market is set to pick up on the shift toward larger screens and ultra-high-end devices. All the big players have further built out their portfolios with bigger screens and higher-end smartphones, including Apple’s new launch in September. In Q3 2018, the 6-inch to less than 7-inch screen size band became the most prominent band for the first time with more than four times year-over-year growth. IDC believes that larger-screen smartphones (5.5 inches and above) will lead the charge with volumes of 947.1 million in 2018, accounting for 66.7% of all smartphones, up from 623.3 million units and 42.5% share in 2017. By 2022, shipments of these larger-screen smartphones will move up to 1.38 billion units or 87.7% of overall shipment volume.

“What we consider a so-called normal size smartphone has shifted dramatically in a few short years and while we are stretching the limits with bezel-less devices, the next big switch to flexible screens will test our imaginations even further,” said Melissa Chau, associate research director with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. “While this category of device is still nascent and won’t see major adoption in the year ahead, it’s exciting to see changes to the standard monoblock we are all so used to carrying.”

Platform Highlights

Android: Android’s smartphone share will remain stable at 85% throughout the forecast. Volumes are expected to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.7% with shipments approaching 1.36 billion in 2022. Android is still the choice of the masses with no shift expected. Android average selling prices (ASPs) are estimated to grow by 9.6% in 2018 to US$258, up from US$235 in 2017. IDC expects this upward trajectory to continue through the forecast, but at a softened rate from 2019 and beyond. Not only are market players pushing upgraded specs and materials to offset decreasing replacement rates, but they are also serving the evolving consumer needs for better performance.

iOS: iOS smartphones are forecast to drop by 2.5% in 2018 to 210.4 million. The launch of expensive and bigger screen iOS smartphones in Q3 2018 helped Apple to raise its ASP, simultaneously making it somewhat difficult to increase shipments in the current market slump. IDC is forecasting iPhone shipments to grow at a five-year CAGR of 0.1%, reaching volumes of 217.3 million in 2022. Despite the challenges, there is no ambiguity that Apple will continue to lead the global premium market segment.

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