Embracing 4IR and cues to remaining relevant – East London Business Breakfast

2nd October 2019

UKZN Extended Learning

– by Samantha Higgins

The Eastern Cape was a significant leg of UKZN Extended Learning’s (UEL) 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) roadshow series, and the delegates attending the Business Breakfast in East London were enthusiastic to unpack and learn more about the context of 4IR in their daily lives and within South Africa. The audience included delegates from Transnet Port Terminals, Transnet Freight Rail, Amathole District Municipality, Walter Sisulu University and Ucoceko Water Projects. A round table feedback from the outset, highlighted a consensus of concern and apprehension about what 4IR will mean for job security and how to personally integrate into this ‘new ideology’ or rather current reality.

Keynote speaker Atul Padalkar, founder of the Business Incubator Bizfarm, relayed an expressive journey of what we have achieved to reach this point in time. A key aspect being our relevance in the changing work/employment landscape. Our education system has not prepared us for the 4th Industrial Revolution, we need to take responsibility for building our own skill-set, we need to extend out learning beyond the training we may have acquired over the past couple of years. A few critical examples we need to action include ‘build tech know-how’ and ‘cultivate a growth mindset’. This goes hand in hand with the definitions of how we ‘work’ in a world that is hyper-connected, where we can work anytime, anyplace. Sticking to the traditional hours of 9 to 5 could mean missed opportunities or exhausted energy due to prolonged hours. We have to align our peak productivity and delivery accordingly. We need to fine tune our skills and talents, and be a brand that is valuable to companies and to ourselves in a strive to remain autonomous.

Apps that exist to connect people on a freelance basis have created a key tool for the high volumes of unemployed or retrenched people in South Africa. Instead of looking for a life-time job or life-time company the unemployed should see the relevance of contract work/multiple assignments. This means networking is paramount to finding employment opportunities, and honing the skill of making a ‘valuable connection’ will be the pay-off.

Delegate, Morgan Mlungu, co-founder and Project Engineer/Manager of Ucoceko Water Projects in the Eastern Cape – is passionate about the youth in our country and finds it worrying that we are talking and focusing on 4IR yet we are not currently skilling children to understand the level of technology and manufacturing that we have achieved to date, meaning Africa will always be chasing the rest of the world and each generation will be playing catch up. His plea to the continuing education sector is to introduce programmes that will skill our learners as early as possible.

The Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE), addressed this very issue at a recent round table event in early September. “It is taking its classrooms into the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) by introducing information and communication technology (ICT) in education”. The workshop was held to drive the adoption of ICT to enable the Eastern Cape e-learning strategy.

UEL has partnered with IBM to offer: IBM’s Digital – Nation Africa, a self-paced learning platform that changes lives and sparks change by providing digital literacy for all.

Sign up for free here: https://ukznextendedlearning.com/course/ibm-digital-skills-training/

Historically, East London formed around South Arica’s only river port, and was originally named Port Rex. It was later renamed in honour of another great river port, after the capital city of Great Britain. East London was elevated to city status in 1914.

The next stop on our 4IR Roadshow is Durban. For more information about this learning platform please contact our Marketing and Sales Manager:

Mrs. Nashlene Maharaj

T: +27 31 260 1234 

E: Maharajn@ukzn.ac.za