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South Africa’s economy closer to 4IR ambition

CAPE TOWN – THE introduction of a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Digital Transformation programme at a local university is anticipated to spur South Africa’s economy into a fourth industrial revolution (4IR) reality.

The Johannesburg Business School’s (JBS), a faculty of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), recently launched the programme that is poised to help business executives and organisational leaders adapt to an ever-changing digital environment.

JBS believes as one of the first digital-centric business programmes at South Africa’s highest level of education, the DPhil is providing academic credibility to a subject that has long been seen as an abstract concept.

According to experts, for the last decade, 4IR has been a subject best left to futurists, global economic lobbying organisations, governments and the few businesses that saw emerging technologies looming.

However, Prof. Lungile Ntsalaze, the Head of the JBS DPhil in Digital Transformation programme, 4IR technologies are fast becoming a part of daily lives.

Leaders, hence, will need to incorporate them into their operations.

“The transformation to a digital future is happening right now. Everyone has to be prepared for the disruption that it will cause,” Ntsalaze said.

The official said technologies were bursting out of laboratories and making their way into the world on a marketable scale.

“Our programme prepares students to take advantage of the new opportunities that will arise from this disruption,” Ntsalaze added.

Unlike traditional doctoral programmes, this particular doctoral degree is described as a balanced mix of theory and practice with a supervisory panel to benefit students’ work from a diverse pool of experts.

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution considers emerging technologies as tools that can help us overcome the global challenges of inequality, climate change and food security.

The technologies include big data, blockchain, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, cloud computing and drone technology.

Ntsalaze said South Africa needs to recognise the need for a workforce that is digitally adept and business savvy.

A worldwide survey conducted by the next-generation online university platform, Nexford University, found that 85 million jobs will be unfilled by 2030 due to skill shortages.

It also stated that 87 percent of employers worldwide report a lack of talent.

A globalised business world run with digital tools that demand employees have high levels of skill, the professor said.

“Soon enough, we will find that semi-formal – or middle-skilled – positions need to be filled by highly educated individuals.”

– CAJ News

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