Industry Skills 4.0

Asif Valley, National Technology Officer, Microsoft

Asif Valley, National Technology Officer, Microsoft

We find ourselves in a crucial time in Africa when it comes to technology and innovation—in the midst of the 4IR and this revolution is like no other.

Powerful technologies like cloud computing and AI are transforming how we work and live, and opening the door to solutions to some of world’s most pressing problems. New economies are being created, exploiting the promise of technology, and bringing with them the potential for new jobs and new ways of working.

For Africa to succeed and digitally transform, leaders must make learning a new way of life. They must become more intentional about their learning agenda because technology, and the impact it can have, is ever changing.

In a recent research report on Future of Work Skills through IDC, it revealed that Digital transformation is well underway, with South African companies adopting a wide variety of technologies from cloud to IoT. However, companies are facing a lack of skills necessary to derive full value from these technologies and the need for deep technical skills is only going to intensify.

Currently, the biggest challenge in acquiring these skills comes less from a lack of qualifications, but more from a general lack of expertise. To meet this growing concern, companies are relying on hiring experienced workers from their own or other industries. In addition, they see success in re-training and upskilling their existing staff to meet future requirements.

Companies are willing to make the re-skilling investment, seeing improved customer experience, operational efficiency, revenue, and profitability as the benefits of a digitally savvy workforce.

"For Africa to succeed and digitally transform, leaders must make learning a new way of life."

The unprecedented digital transformation is now underway and is rapidly reshaping the way we work and live. Technologies such as AI, IOT, and ML have come into the mainstream and are accelerating this journey to transform our economy and redesign the future of work.

Because of this evolution, the jobs landscape is changing as well. New technologies are driving a decline in low skilled jobs and demanding people to upskill to remain competitive and relevant.

As we work with customers to digitally transform their businesses, a top request we hear is that they want to improve the skills of their teams to make the most of the technology they investing in.

I believe that preparing for the jobs of the future, we need to find ways to not only provide new skills, but also upskill and reskill people and in so doing, help them lead a better quality of life. 

Through a combination of partnerships, training, real world experiences and on-line classrooms, we are upskilling both future workers and those already in the workplace.

Programs such as AI University which I am working on with partners and universities will ensure we bridge the gap to this pressing lack of skilled resources that not only will have the qualification but also the necessary experience to help companies continue on their digital transformation journey.

Learning is becoming a revolving door, it’s a continuous process of learning and unlearning and learning again to stay relevant. As the NTO for my organization, I take this responsibility seriously through finding ways of realizing this change in a non-disruptive manner so that organizations can balance between the business objectives, innovation and the skills they need to achieve it.

Weekly Brief

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