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Skills survey shows 4IR is still waiting in the wings



The tenth edition of an ICT Skills Survey by Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE),  in partnership with the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), shows the 4th Industrial Revolution is still waiting in the wings. The survey sketches a mixed future for the ICT landscape in South Africa should current trends persist. 

“Although many stakeholder groups are making concerted efforts to improve the competency and employability of young people through some excellent initiatives, the results tend to be counted in terms of hundreds or maybe thousands of candidates when what is needed is opportunities for tens or even hundreds of thousands in the digital economy,” says Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Director of the JCSE.

With the aim of identifying current ICT skills priorities and gaps to assist business leaders and policy makers to develop strategies for growing and retaining digital skills, this year’s survey report also calls for urgent coordination between public and private sector activities, so that there is a clear relationship between forecasted skills needs and the pipeline to fill those needs. This is particularly true for South Africa’s stated 4IR ambitions, as underpinned by the recent appointment of a Presidential Commission on Fourth Industrial Revolution and the launch of the 4IRSA initiative. 

“4IR is used, in South Africa at least, as a catch phrase referring to all aspects of digital adoption and transformation, only some of which relate to cutting-edge ‘revolutionary’ innovations,” says Dwolatzky. “Much of what is spoken and written about in relation to 4IR is part of an ongoing process of evolutionary digital transformation.”

The 2019 results show Information Security as a leading skills priority followed by a cluster of second level priorities made up of Big Data/Data Analytics, Software as a Service/Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence and Application Development. 

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