We all love technology and clutch our mobiles, tablets and other devices like they are our most treasured possessions. With the internet, technological advances and the changing face of every industry we are heading towards job-elimination because of automation in the workplace. This of course already happened with the first Industrial Revolution and then when the first computers and assembly lines were automated. People lost their jobs, certain professions became obsolete, but as humans we are nothing if not adaptable. Truly our saving grace.
This was highlighted during the World Economic Forum attended by African leaders, including Namibia’s Prime Minister. The leaders unanimously agreed that in order to achieve economic inclusiveness, the youth need to be prepared for the fourth industrial revolution. This revolution will drastically change the rules of the game, be it in terms of how work will be carried out and what new skills will be required. NSFAF’s role and duty is to try to invest in skills and facilitate in such a manner that will prepare students for these new jobs and skills that the fourth industrial revolution will bring. We will therefore partner up and work together with our stakeholders to make this a reality.
There are countless stories, articles and statements from people who know about these things that state that up to 50% of all present jobs will be gone in the next 20 years. People are to be replaced by robots, artificial intelligence and self-driving cars and drone delivery services for example. This sounds like a nightmarish future for many, especially the youth.
How and what will they do? As always, it is the least educated with menial and manual jobs that will see their jobs disappear and replaced by machines first. Although, as the technological developments continue there is talk of automated surgery and pilot-less planes as well. So, that begs the question … is no job safe?
In the past it was predicted that jobs would disappear and there would be nothing to do for great swathes of the population and we would descend into a society in chaos. This clearly didn’t happen. We adapted and became educated in the new fields of media, internet technologies, engineering and a myriad of new studies. Change is constant and so should our education be. NSFAF stimulates and motivates and assists in financing education for the youth of Namibia, ensuring they are well prepared for the challenges of adulthood as well as to ensure they can have fulfilling careers. Finding employment in professions that help develop this great nation further and each and every day.
We as a nation and as a government need to anticipate this enormous shift in employment phenomenon that is happening globally and will certainly impact Namibia. With the right education, amending courses and being at the forefront of technology in tertiary institutes we can make our students, graduates and our nation future-proof and employable. No matter what automation, artificial intelligence or technology may do to the jobs that exist right now.
Namibia and Namibians need to embrace the new disruptive technologies and through education ensure that the employability of our future professionals is guaranteed. A worthwhile and essential investment for NSFAF and Namibia to make.
* Hilya Nghiwete is the chief executive officer of NSFAF.