Welcome to Foresight For Development

Work III

NEDLAC Futures of work in South Africa

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

INTRODUCTION
THE GENERAL ENVIRONMENTAL CONTEXT
THE DEMOGRAPHIC CONTEXT IN SOUTH AFRICA

NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN SOUTH AFRICA
URBANISATION
WHO LIVES WHERE IN SOUTH AFRICA?
LANGUAGES MOST SPOKEN IN HOUSEHOLDS OF SOUTH AFRICA
LEVELS OF SCHOOLING

 

THE DNA OF THE 4TH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION (4IR)

THE IMPORTANCE OF TECHNOLOGY
TECHNO-ECONOMIC PARADIGMS
THE ENABLING AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES
DIGITAL REACH IN SOUTH AFRICA

 

THE SOUTH AFRICAN PROBLEMATIQUE

THE CRISIS-PRONE AND VOLATILE GLOBAL ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
SELF-INFLICTED, INHERENT WEAKNESSES

 

INDUSTRIES AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES IN SOUTH AFRICA AFFECTED BY THE 4IR
THE DYNAMICS AND DIMENSIONS OF SOUTH AFRICA’S LABOUR MARKET

Unemployment: The numbers
Unemployment: The reasons
Unemployment: Atypical outcomes
Unemployment: Capital deepening
Unemployment: Productivity
Unemployment and the quality of labour
Unemployment: Future prospects?

 

INTERVIEWS, INDUSTRY ANALYSES AND SCENARIOS
INSIGHTS GAINED FROM INTERVIEWS

THE INFLUENCE OF AUTOMATION
THE INFLUENCE OF DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES
THE INFLUENCE OF GLOBALISATION

 

DRIVERS OF CHANGE ON INDUSTRY LEVEL
ANALYSIS OF SELECTED INDUSTRIES

HEALTHCARE
THE INFORMAL ECONOMY
THE ENERGY SECTOR: OIL AND COAL
THE TRANSPORT INDUSTRY
THE PUBLIC SECTOR
THE SERVICES SECTOR
THE EDUCATION SECTOR
THE AGRI-PROCESSING INDUSTRY
FINANCIAL SECTOR
MINING INDUSTRY
MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY
AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY

 

SCENARIOS: THE WORLD OF WORK IN SOUTH AFRICA IN 2030

IDENTIFICATION OF THE DRIVING FORCES
ANALYSIS OF THE DRIVING FORCES
GENERATING THE SET OF SCENARIOS
A DEAD-END
DEMAND AND CONTROL
MISSING THE MARK (FOR NOW)
ACCOMPLISHED GAME-CHANGERS

 

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Research Team

 

INTRODUCTION

 

As has been the case for all previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will, of necessity, result in technological, economic, social, political, business, moral, and even aesthetic disruption. The perceived impact of this disruption ranges from the dystopian to the enlightening. Commenting on the First Industrial Revolution, Henry David Thoreau, lamented the fact that “Men have become the tools of their tools.” In a similar Dickensian tone John Boyd Orr states that “When the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century brought a rapid increase in wealth, the demand of workers for a share of the wealth they were creating was conceded only after riots and strikes.” Two and a half centuries later, Stowe Boyd claims that the central question of 2025 will be: “What are people for in a world that does not need their labour, and where only a minority are needed to guide the ‘bot-based’ economy?”

A more sanguine view is expressed by Stephen Gardiner: “The Industrial Revolution was another of those extraordinary jumps forward in the story of civilization.” Vinnie Merchandani welcomes the advent of advanced robots and artificial intelligence (AI) by stating that “Machines will become more of our colleagues, and we should not be so worried about their increased presence in the future …if anything, they will take our outstanding workers and make them even better.” Deborah Lupton is even more reassuring: “Humans will always have the need for affective and embodied interactions with other humans, which can never be replaced by robots.”

The ambivalence towards the 4IR is perhaps best captured by Geoff Livingston: “I see the movement towards AI and robotics as evolutionary, in large part because it is such a sociological leap. The technology may be ready, but we are not – at least, not yet.”

The dichotomous nature of the expected impact of the 4IR is co-created by a broad spectrum of vectors, including hyperbole, superstition, ignorance, propaganda, ideology, resistance to change, lack of foresight, ethics, prejudice, and historical misinterpretation. These sentiments and views are magnified in South Africa where poverty, unemployment, and inequality add further layers of complexity to the issue.

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