Tag: skills

By Noah Smith for The Star 

Marc Andreessen, venture capitalist and one of the pioneers of the world wide web, once declared:

The spread of computers and the Internet will put jobs in two categories. People who tell computers what to do, and people who are told by computers what to do.

Andreessen has since repudiated this declaration, and taken a more optimistic stance. But economists, a more pessimistic bunch, are taking the possibility of this sort of bifurcated future more seriously. As machine-learning technology enjoys rapid progress, more top researchers are investigating the question of what work will look like in a world filled with computers that can replicate or surpass many of humanity’s own mental abilities.

This is different from the scenario where robots take people’s jobs outright and leave humanity obsolete. While some economists claim to find signs of automation-induced unemployment, the amount is still very small, if it even exists at all. With the labour market having reached pre-recession levels, worries that jobs will become permanently scarce have quieted.

But that doesn’t mean the jobs people have in the future will be good ones. For decades, some economists have fretted about what they call skill-biased technological change, or the possibility that new technologies will reward those smart or mentally flexible enough to master them, while devaluing the skills of everyone else.

As computerisation proceeded in the 1980s, and as inequality rose, some economists worried that skill-biased technological change might already be having a big effect. But they probably jumped the gun. A 2002 paper by labour economists David Card and John DiNardo observed that wage inequality stopped rising in the 1990s, even as computerisation accelerated. The authors also noted that the 1980s saw a diminution of the gender wage gap, despite the fact that women were less likely to have computer-intensive jobs.

But just because skill-biased technological change doesn’t explain the 1980s doesn’t mean it will never happen. In 2010, labour economist David Autor warned that routine tasks – jobs like assembly-line manufacturing or traditional office work – were being automated. These jobs use a lot of brain power, but in a predictable, repetitive way – exactly the kind of thing that computers can do better than humans. Autor found that his measures of routine task input were declining decade by decade:

It’s also possible that the “people who tell computers what to do”, and who therefore reap the benefits of the machine age, will not be workers, but business owners. Some economists believe that cheap technology is causing labour’s share of global income to decline. A recent study by Autor and co-author Anna Salomons finds that since the 1970s, industries with faster productivity growth, international patenting and robot adoption have all seen labour lose out to capital. That’s not a slam-dunk case – there are other reasons these factors could be hurting workers, and the rise of capital income could be mostly due to other forces. But this research raises the disturbing possibility that automation will lead to the final victory of capital over labour.

Now the worries about automation-induced inequality have increased, thanks to the stunning rise of machine learning. Since 2013, there has been a surge of interest in this new technology, which allows computers to do tasks like image and speech recognition that were previously the sole province of human brains:

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs and big businesses alike are dreaming of ways to use machine learning to replace a vast array of human tasks, from driving trucks to preparing food. Venture capitalists are pouring money into machine learning startups – often known by the trendy if inaccurate buzzword of “artificial intelligence”:

Economists, true to form as the dismal scientists, are concerned. If machine learning automates away low-skilled tasks, as some predict, it might not make working-class people obsolete, but it could make their existence miserable nonetheless. It’s possible to imagine a future where lower-skilled people are constantly seeing their jobs get gobbled up by machines, forcing them to always be transitioning to new tasks – perpetually seeking a niche that hasn’t yet been devoured by ingenious entrepreneurs and their subservient robots, even as wages diminish. That scenario doesn’t necessarily involve high unemployment, but it’s hellish enough that it should worry people.

So what can be done to avert this future? The popular ideas include universal basic income, a federal job guarantee and subsidies for the employment of human workers. These are all ideas worth trying out on a modest scale, to see if they work; even if machine learning isn’t the threat some fear, they could be very helpful in reducing inequality.

Another idea is a social wealth fund – a government-managed fund or collection of funds that would use tax revenue to purchase shares in companies and distribute the dividends to citizens. A social wealth fund would create a true ownership society, insuring the working populace against the rise of the robots by allowing each person to own a piece of those robots’ output. Ultimately, this seems like the simplest and most elegant solution.

Will your job be taken over by robots?

A new report published by the World Economic Forum casts a grim light on the future of jobs across the world, with 1.4 million US jobs alone expected to disrupted by technology and other factors between now and 2026.

The report is an analysis of nearly 1,000 job types across the US economy, encompassing 96% of employment in the country. Its aim is to assess the scale of the re-skilling task required to protect workforces from an expected wave of automation brought on by the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

Drawing on this data for the US economy, the report found that 57% of jobs expected to be disrupted belong to women. In addition, the report found that if called on today to move to another job with skills that match their own, 16% of workers would have no opportunities to transition and another 25% would have only between one and three matches.

At the other end of the spectrum, 2% of workers have more than 50 options. This group makes up a very small, fortunate minority, as on average all workers would have 10 transition options today.

The positive finding of the report is the huge opportunity identified for re-skilling to lift wages and increase social mobility.

With re-skilling, for example, the average worker in the US economy would have 48 viable job transitions – nearly as much as the 2% with the most options today. Among those transitions, 24 jobs would lead to higher wages.

South Africa

Re-skilling may also ultimately be the deciding factor as to whether the South African economy survives the fourth industrial revolution.

According to a report released by global consultancy Accenture in January 2018, 35% of all jobs in South Africa are currently at risk of total automation, meaning machines can perform 75% of the activities that make up these jobs.

Accenture said that both blue and white-collar jobs are at risk.

“The jobs of clerks, cashiers, tellers, construction-, mining- and maintenance workers all fall into this category,” it said.

Hard-to-automate jobs (those with a lower risk of automation) include tasks like influencing people, teaching people, programming, real-time discussions, advising people, negotiating and cooperating with co-workers, Accenture said.

Similar to the WEF’s findings, Accenture found that if South Africa can double the pace at which its workforce acquires skills relevant for human-machine collaboration, it can reduce the number of jobs at risk from 20% (3.5 million jobs) in 2025 to just 14%(2.5 million).

“Digital is a growth multiplier. Digital technologies are ushering in a new economic era by overcoming the physical limitations of capital and labour, exposing new sources of value and growth, increasing efficiency and driving competitiveness, said Dr Roze Phillips, MD for Accenture Consulting in Africa.

“However, for countries like South Africa that are less prepared for human-machine collaboration, digital technologies may bring more job losses than gains.”

“South Africa cannot hesitate – it must start now. To succeed, leaders must act swiftly to re-imagine work, pivot the workforce and scale up ‘new skilling’,” said Phillips.

Source: Business Tech 

People are working longer and in countries like South Africa, where we have a chronic skills shortage, workers with years of experience have invaluable knowledge to share at the workplace.

But how should companies adapt to make sure an ageing workforce feel like they still belong?

Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, workplace specialists who consult across Africa, says that workplaces need to adapt for an older workplace and have been slow to do so so far.

“Population ageing is a global phenomenon and workplaces need to modify to accept the reality of older workers. It is increasingly important to retain workers as they get into their fifties, typically the time when businesses start to lose all that prized expertise.”

Trim says there are five key office considerations businesses need to retain and attract an ageing workforce:

1) Lighting, especially natural lighting

Natural light should be used in concentration spaces wherever possible, with fabric curtains and blinds to diffuse light. Task lights at the desk are an important consideration for ageing eyes and for reading printouts off-screen, and a lower and more pleasant level of general ambient lighting within the concentration space.

2) Good acoustics

Says Trim:”Having spaces where people who battle to hear can work easily especially with technology such as Skype is very important. We also suggested the use of sound-masking systems like acoustic boards that can reduce distracting noise which are appreciated by everyone in busy offices, not just older workers.”
3) Private space

All generations get sick and tired of work at times and would like somewhere to go to recuperate briefly from the stress and noise of the normal work environment.

“The provision of contemplation space that can provide a calm, quiet environment free from distraction and surveillance is important to making ageing workforces more productive – and evidence suggests it would be popular with everyone,” saysTrim.

Trim says that here Giant Leap advocates strong natural and organic elements, rich with plants, water, fabric banners and adjustable lighting, giving a different feel to the office atmosphere elsewhere.

It isn’t just older workers who crave quiet and privacy when they want to concentrate on solo tasks – or dedicated tools and spaces for collaboration when they want to work in a team.
4) Age Appropriate design

Age-appropriate design that helps, rather than unthinking design that hinders and stigmatises, can make a huge difference to quality of life. “And this was never more so than in considering access to work and the workplace for older people.” Trim noted.

For example older workers don’t want to feel incapable and frustrated by things like unadjustable chairs, confounding IT systems and cupboards that they just can’t reach. That also don’t want to feel they need someone to help them all they time but it’s a quick fix to deal with this.

“Offering things like easy access to files, height adjustable furniture and simple IT can make a difference.

“Older people who have honed their skills in the pre-digital era also prefer to spread out sheets and data, and not worry about confidentiality or tidying away before the project is completed.”

Bigger desks to spread things out and bigger backdrops to pin things up will enhance collaborative modes of working for older people.
5) Wellbeing focus

“Things like user-controlled lighting, ergonomic furniture, natural soundscapes and other humanising features all contribute to a sense of wellbeing,” says Trim.

As mentioned, private spaces that are governed by strict wellbeing protocols for working (for example, no mobile phone calls or loud conversations, as in a library). These spaces should be located away from noisy facilities such as kitchens and cafés, print-rooms or social spaces. They should be equipped with different types of furniture and adjustable settings to allow for a range of working positions, as poor ergonomics and uncomfortable posture will adversely affect the ability to focus.

Conclusion

“While older knowledge workers may well be compromised in the office environment by the inevitable effects of ageing on vision, hearing, posture, memory, balance and dexterity, they tend to compensate cognitively in terms of wisdom, experience and decision making.

“They are also, contrary to popular myth, flexible learners – they have adapted to several waves of business and technological change over lengthy careers. It’s makes economic sense for companies to make them feel at ease in the workplace,” Trim concludes.

The Digital Academy’s first year has taught us all some big lessons.

DA infographic_final_edit1
One of our greatest challenges has been fitting our systems and methodologies around the formal learning environment. Our model works very well and solves a number of challenges for large corporates, but they rely on a very formal governance structure.

Luckily we have turned this challenge into an advantage by accrediting our programme to local, modern learning structures without impacting on the integrity of our experiential, practical and work-integrated learning model.

Another big challenge is expansion. We are able to effectively replicate our programme as it was designed that way, and we want to have more impact for a larger audience and continue to create futures and build products that have commercial intent. We are always on the look-out for new people to partner with.

Despite the challenges, we have been fortunate enough to have multiple achievements over the course of the past year that we are very proud of.

One of the most poignant is attending meetings with our partners and seeing former DA graduates sitting across the table, working on projects with us. These individuals have matured into young professionals, and it is a source of great happiness that we were able to provide that opportunity.

Another feather in our cap is to hear that the majority of the candidates sent to our partners have been permanently placed. This is something that drives us to be better and do more.

We have learnt so much over the past year, and many lessons have moulded our programme into what it is today.

We have learnt that we cannot be all things to all people.

We love to work with hungry young talent that has a passion for changing their lives. We can’t help someone who is not willing to help themselves. We provide all the tools, so there are no excuses.

One of our greatest learnings was in the creation phases of our product development. Our learners solve problems for our corporate partners in the form of digital solutions, and have to pitch ideas around these challenges in the very first week. We have come to realise that in many cases these guys and girls are looking not only to solve the corporate challenge, but they are also interested in solving the problem based on their everyday life experience.
This real-life approach is now one of our greatest strengths – and a lesson learned entirely by accident.

The future of The Digital Academy seems to be very much focused on the development of job seekers as well as the support we can create in the job creator.
We strive to be an industry last-mile standard and we aim to have a massive impact on our country.

We have already seen an appetite from the private sector to use our services in multiple areas across multiple skill-sets. Our model works, and has been very effective for our partners. We see the DA of the future moving into specialised areas such as networking, big data, cyber security, animation, gaming and UX/UI. We are able to cater our programmes toward the development of this talent – something which is very exciting for us.
We are expanding into other major hubs within SA, hoping to drive development in cities and provinces that have otherwise been left out of the digital economy. We plan to expand with corporate private sector partners that share our vision of transforming the country. But most importantly, we aim to build products that mean something to someone.

We cannot create solutions that are not locally relevant, but we can’t lose sight of global competitiveness either. Too many organisations are not nurturing our local talent but rather moving opportunities abroad, which does nothing for the development of our country or our continent.
The good news is that there is incredible talent in our country. Our challenge lies in refining the skills and giving people the passion and the platform to change the IT landscape of our country.
Africa is also waiting for us. They don’t know it yet, but we will be there.

By Gary Bannatyne, MD of the Digital Academy

According to an article from the World Economic Forum, 35% of the skills that are crucial in today’s workforce will have changed by the year 2020.

The emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution – characterised by an exponential increase in various digital and cyber technologies – will be in full swing.

The rise of smart machines and systems, our computational world, new media ecology, superstructure organisations and the reality of globalisation, are all key factors driving this era. Your current job may cease to exist; new jobs will grow in its place, and currently nonexistent jobs will become the norm.

The question is: how do you ensure your skillset is aligned with the pace of the future’s workforce?

A recent IDC survey, commissioned by Microsoft, shed some light on this question – identifying that although technical skills are valuable, employers of the future will place greater importance on soft skills:

Check out five of the soft skills you’ll need to impress your employer with in 2025, and how you can master them for maximum impact:

Social intelligence
Employers value this skill today and will value it even more in the future: the ability to adapt your behaviour to accommodate various styles of communication, different strengths and weaknesses, and a multitude of personalities.

If you’re in a position of leadership or looking to move into one in the future, this will be a key competency to develop.

Cross-cultural competency
Linked to social intelligence is the capacity to function in a multicultural setting – a soft skill which will be key for working in a world where globalisation is here to stay.

This means you’ll need to be able to adapt the way you communicate, collaborate and interact with people across cultures, as well as work with varying cultural beliefs, time schedules, and nuances. How will you identify, understand and accommodate different cultures in your future work environment?

Speak a universal language of visual communication – this is translatable across language and cultural barriers, so use images or video, as a way to train employees, or educate others in your workspace.
Ask your current co-workers questions – take the time to learn basic words, phrases and gestures from other cultures in an effort to identify with people you may work with in the future.
Make the effort to educate – cultivate an environment of learning, where you transfer the cultural knowledge you have acquired to those you work with. Maybe even teach your boss a thing or two.

New media literacy
As you might be aware, video and audio content are becoming even more prominent when it comes to the exchange of information. Within the next five years it will be even more present, in a wider range of industries. Whether your role currently has a direct relation to these forms of media or not, your ability to consume and understand visual content is going to be a highly desirable skill to your future employer.

Virtual collaboration
Globalisation has resulted in workplaces coexisting in different countries and time zones, meaning it’s almost impossible to have everyone in the same room. In fact, a survey of business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London found that 34% of executives said more than half their company’s full-time employees would be working remotely in 2020. And that number is only going to increase.

The only way to solve this problem is by using technology to communicate and collaborate. Virtual collaboration is here to stay, which means you need to be able to continue to engage and encourage productivity with a virtual team in the same way that you would if everyone was in the same building.

Master this soft skill by using tools like Google Docs, Skype, Time Doctor, Basecamp, Slack and Trello.

The ability to self-direct
The use of outsourcing, freelancers and telecommuting will increase in future workplaces, making it impossible to supervise every employee. What does this mean for you? You’ll need to know how to self-direct. This involves increased responsibility, being self-disciplined and accountable, making important decisions on your own, keeping your cool under pressure, and a high level of self-awareness.

In a study by Green Peak Partners and Cornell University on what determines executive success, it was noted that high self-awareness was the “strongest predictor of overall success.”

One popular way to develop this self-awareness is through an examination of the 6 leadership styles proposed by Daniel Goleman, in his publication: Leadership That Gets Results.

Conclusion
From robots to virtual reality, the future workspace may be nothing like we could ever imagine today.

But as founder of Google, Larry Page says, “Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future. I try to focus on that: What is the future really going to be? And how do we create it? And how do we power our organisation to really focus on that and really drive it at a high rate?”

As long as you’re willing to future-proof the way you approach your work, interact with people, and embrace technologies, you’ll have no problem keeping up with the changes to come – and make a massive impression on your future boss while you do.

Source: www.resources.getsmarter.co.za

In an age of professional social networks, it might seem as if the design of your CV and depth of your LinkedIn profile determines your ability to advance your career. In reality, networking is still an essential skill that should be fine-tuned and perfected. Here are some important insights into this often-overlooked business skill.

Network first, Facebook later
Decision makers still value human contact. Your digital profile is still considered a ‘cold call’ by the people who matter – they want to know who you really are, beyond a one-dimensional summary. Although it’s vital to play in the digital networking space, there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction. The perfect LinkedIn profile means nothing if you can’t win people over in person, even though the end goal is ultimately the same: to promote yourself and connect with the right people.

Know your game
It’s pointless to attend an event and blindly try to make an impact on everyone in the room. You have to know your short and long terms goals, and align your networking strategy accordingly. Be strategic: before you attend an event, research who will be there and a little bit about them. Know who you want to chat to, and make it happen.

Listen longer
The most vital skill in networking successfully is listening. Never approach a group of people and start running your mouth off because you feel you need to assert yourself and promote your skill set.

Ask questions, listen and identify similar interests. Pick up on these interests and ask more questions about them. Be flexible – if they’re not responding to you, change your agenda. Endearing yourself to someone as a person first makes it much easier to approach them professionally later. Always remember to keep it strictly friendly and familiar, never flirtatious.

Understand it takes time
Would-be-go-getters are often awestruck by the raw talent of successful networkers – this is a misconception. No one is a born networker – it’s a learned skill. Some people might be more naturally confident, but that certainly doesn’t make them a good networker. It takes endless hours of practice to fine-tune and master a fruitful networking style. So practice as much as you can.

Attend events that push you out of your comfort zone and try to leave with at least a few contacts. You’ve got nothing to lose, so be bold. Like anything else in life, the more you practice, the easier it gets.

Network everywhere
It may sound odd, but your networking skills spill over into your personal life too. Social occasions are equally important opportunities to network – but in this case, you’re looking to make friends, or just create a relaxed and comfortable environment.

The same goes for networking within your company. Just because you’ve landed the job you want, doesn’t mean you should stop networking – connect with people above and below you in the corporate structure. Offer support where and when you can, because one day you’ll probably need it in return.

Master the follow-up
You’ve spent a day connecting with the right people, swapped business cards – now what? Always think ahead and plan how you’re going to connect after the event. If possible, try and swap numbers and send a follow-up message the day after. Don’t be too aggressive and stalk them: asking for a coffee or lunch meeting to chat is okay, asking them to swing past your house for a glass of wine probably isn’t.

If you want to become a successful networker, remember you have to be self-motivated. The onus is on you to fine-tune your skills, because no-one is going to do it for you. It’s about being your own personal cheerleader, without anyone actually noticing. You’ll be surprised by how much it benefits other areas of your social life – and it might just land you the position you want.

By Tish Magongwa, franchise marketing manager at Nashua

South Africa has the highest number of highly-skilled women professionals of any African country who are emigrating to other countries because of limited career opportunities at home.

This is according to an analysis of data by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which shows the migration patterns between all African countries and OECD countries.

The OECD is made up of 35 countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and several European countries.

This, combined with the analysis of data from the Institute for Futures Research at the University of Stellenbosch and the Commission for Gender Equality, shows that the number of women leaving South Africa for the world’s most popular immigrant destinations is growing faster than the men who are moving to the same countries.

Out of 86 countries that South Africans emigrated to, those that experienced the highest migrant influx were the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.

These three countries received 967,619 migrants from South Africa from 2010 to 2013. Of these, almost half — 486,134 — were women. In the 2010-2011 period the number of women migrants to these countries outnumbered men.

Commission for Gender Equality commissioner Janine Hicks said women professionals were likely to seek career opportunities in other countries because their representation in managerial positions and directorships were still disproportionately low.

“If you ask about a push factor, it’s that we are out there but we are not getting access to senior positions. Gender transformation groups have put out figures that point to poor gender transformation,” Ms Hicks said.

While women made up 46.8% of the employed population in 2013/2014, their representation was at 29.3% among executive managers, 9.2% among private sector chairpersons of boards and as low as 2.4% among CEOs of JSE-listed companies, she says.

Also at issue were rigid attitudes in the professional environment regarding the inclusion of women in key decision-making. And there was a failure on the part of the private sector to recognise the needs of women when fulfilling their corporate social responsibility obligations, especially in rural areas where access to services was limited.

“Mining companies in Mpumalanga claim they struggle to retain women professionals. Mining companies in South Africa are based in rural areas, so some would joke that there is no Woolworths in Secunda so it would be hard to retain a woman there,” Hicks says.

“But they don’t seem to want to talk about investing in services that women working in these rural areas need, such as schools to send their children to, and gynaecologists. In fact I challenge you to find one gynaecologist in Secunda,” she says.

Mienke Steytler of the South African Institute of Race Relations said women were most affected by the lacklustre performance of the South African economy, which hampered their employment prospects.

“Young women tend to take advantage of the opportunities offered to them and if these opportunities are in other countries, they will take them, especially if they face such a high chance of not finding work,” Ms Steytler said.

Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom favoured highly skilled female migrants, and there were also fewer concerns for women over crime, healthcare, and education among other things, she said.

By Khulekani Magubane for www.bdlive.co.za

The Barclays unit of The Digital Academy has been launched to drive a rapid internship programme that is changing the way Barclays Africa develops its digital products, while supporting the people who develop them. This initiative, launched on Friday 31 July at its space on 77 Commissioner Street, Johannesburg, connects African corporates with raw talent to deliver market-ready software products. It is powered by software development start-up Empire State.

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