by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – GOVERNMENT, the private sector and educational institutions must work together to upskill the country for South Africa to fulfil its potential to lead Africa in the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
This is according to a multinational corporation specializing in energy management, automation solutions, spanning hardware, software and services.
Schneider Electric said the South African industry would need to upskill its workforce and reorganise its businesses, putting integrated information technology (IT) systems in place to handle the increased speed of change, higher flow of data and new networking and communication needs.
Executives said attracting the right digital talent and (re)training and developing the existing workforce to understand and operate new and smart technologies will be equally important.
“South Africa must start to look at how best to skill the nation to adapt to a digital economy,” said Caspar Herzberg, Schneider Electric Middle East and Africa (MEA) President.
He said many jobs could be created with the increase in automation hence creating the right skills for Industry 4.0 was critical.
“We need to deliver technology-focused education to ensure that we are not just consumers of Industry 4.0 technologies but also that we participate in the value chain,” Herzberg said.
Herzberg was a participant in the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) Roundtable, hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Skills development and job creation, which is critical for a thriving South African economy, were among other topics discussed.
According to the WEF, Industry 4.0 could prove disruptive to many occupations but it also has the potential to create a wide range of new jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), data analysis, computer science and engineering.
There will also be strong demand for professionals who can blend digital and STEM skills with traditional subject expertise, such as digital-mechanical engineers and business operations data analysts.
“However, if businesses are going to respond to these radical new approaches of business succinctly, we must pay attention to how and when this learning will take place and when it comes to developing these critical skills, which will determine the future world of work,” said Zanelle Dalglish, Schneider Electric Anglophone Africa Head of Sustainable Development.
The company is playing its part through the South African Schneider Electric Education Centre (F’SASEC) network, established in conjunction with the Schneider Electric Foundation, and the French Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Research.
Students studying at F’SASEC at both the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and Vaal University of Technology (VUT) are benefitting.
In addition, the Schneider Electric Foundation has recently made an undisclosed donation of training equipment to the various F’SASEC centres.
Dalglish said it would be a tough task to expect engineering students to learn Industry 4.0 skills, the industrial Internet of things (IoT), cloud computing and cognitive computing, without relevant technology.
“Through strategic collaboration with government and academia, we are able to address issues such as a lack of equipment or access to practical experience collectively,” she concluded.
– CAJ News