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Youth Day 2020: OPINION: Why a changing world means more trouble for South Africa’s youth.

PUBLISHED: Tue, 16 Jun 2020 17:53:44 GMT

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution takes the automation of manufacturing processes to an unprecedented level, with the introduction of smart, autonomous systems that are capable of self-cognition, self-optimization and self-customization. While these processes present numerous opportunities for producers and manufacturers, it creates a heightened level of uncertainty for policymakers and development practitioners. This is partly due to the new challenges that will arise, especially in terms of employment, educational systems and industrial policies.

The June 16 1976 Uprising that began in Soweto and spread countrywide profoundly changed the socio-political landscape in South Africa, yet 44-year later youth unemployment is still a struggle. The youth   unemployment rate in South Africa is expected to be 70 percent by the end of 2020, as Covid19 puts jobs at risk for about 1.6 million to 2.5 million in South Africa. The International Labour Organization estimates 1.6 billion jobs to be lost because of COVID-19 that could make it even worse for South Africa.

Secondary challenges for youth are the current Education that’s not aligned with the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Future Revolutions and financial exclusion at institutions of higher education and training.

Ultimately, the aim of Industrial revolution awareness for youth and families is to explore the potential impact of Industry 4.0 and digital technologies on developing countries and youth participation in the future job market, given the changing dynamics. The transformative potential of digital technologies is clear and must therefore be properly understood and utilized to take advantage of opportunities, while mitigating the challenges, specifically for the youth.

Youth training Forum to adapt with current and future industrial revolution focusing on Soft skills (uniquely human skills) such as creativity, complex problem-solving, emotional intelligence and critical thinking, which will be irreplaceable by machines; Technical skills ( Computer programming, coding, project management, financial management, mechanical functions, scientific tasks, technology-based skills); Entrepreneurship ( Initiative, innovation, creativity, industriousness, resourcefulness, resilience, ingenuity, curiosity, optimism, risk-taking, courage, business acumen, business execution) needs to be  considered for the empowering of young people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.

There is a general consensus that Socio-economic features in South Africa including structurally high unemployment and income and wealth inequality are longstanding and deeply-entrenched constraints on the country’s growth potential. Deep inequalities – South Africa’s income inequality is among the highest globally, as measured by the Gini index – and resistance to reforms from key stakeholders limit the government’s room to adopt and implement structural reforms.

Adaptive challenges are volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous in nature. Solutions to this type of challenge usually require people to learn new ways of doing things, change their attitudes, values and norms and adopt an experimental mind-set.

South African progress has also been distributed unevenly, both within our demographics such as race, gender and generations. Adding to the problem, however, is the fact that certain sections of the population, often women, children, people with disabilities and majority groups, are systematically left behind.

Reducing poverty, youth unemployment and inequality must be the main objectives of South African private and public leaders.  The 2030 Agenda aims to ‘end poverty in all its forms everywhere’ (SDG 1) and to ‘reduce inequality within and among countries’ (SDG 10). The significance of the issues of poverty and inequality is also manifested in the implementation principle of the 2030 Agenda ‘Leave no one behind’ (LNOB). Leaving no youth behind will assist South Africa not to create future unemployment and add to welfare spending to the continuous generated future dependence, a big risk for the nation that needs to be mitigated. The SDG 1 and SDG 10 of the 2030 Agenda and the ‘Leave no one behind’ principle needs to be practically strengthened for the South Africa, in building a developmental state.

South Africa will need to solve it’s intractable challenges to reinstate it’s economic development and growth objectives, through an economic investment collaboration to re-establish mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors, to reactivate the services industries for a holistic economic development and growth national happiness improvement. Miyelani Mkhabela is an Executive Director at Antswisa Transaction Advisory Services


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