Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, acknowledged diversified digital technology group, Ansys, as a major new player in the global cyber security industry.
Speaking during the State of the Province Address (SoPA) in Johannesburg yesterday, he also highlighted the important role that black entrepreneurs – among them Ansys CEO, Teddy Daka – are playing in preparing both the country and its people for a fully digitised future.
In his address, Makhura emphasised the impact that the fourth industrial revolution is having on the country’s economy in general and on jobs. Picking up on this critical theme, raised by President Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address (SoNA) on 16 February, he noted how much there is to be learnt from outliers like Ansys, which are at the cutting edge of innovation and the development of advanced manufacturing capabilities.
As this new industrial revolution brings together the physical, digital and biological worlds, it is having a disruptive impact on all disciplines, economies and industries. Quoting from The Future of Jobs Report, published by the World Economic Forum in 2016, Makhura emphasised that 65% of children entering primary school today will find themselves working in occupations that do not yet exist.
Rather than seeing this as a potential threat to growth and development, Daka says Ansys regards it as an opportunity to further government’s objective of facilitating radical transformation, modernisation and re-industrialisation in South Africa. He also sees it as an opportunity to build a trailblazing digital technology positioning for the country, which will see it becoming a key global player in this arena.
From a jobs perspective, Daka has a similarly far-ranging view.
“As in previous periods of rapid industrial development, certain jobs and categories of jobs will become redundant,” he says, “but this paves the way for business and industry to work with government in order to prepare young people with the digital skills they will need in the future job market.”
He acknowledges that disruptive technologies will have a profound impact on the employment landscape in coming years, leading to some job displacement, but notes that this will have the net effect of adding more jobs to the economy as a whole.
“In many industries and sectors, today’s most in-demand specialities did not exist ten or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate,” he says. “We therefore need to focus on the kind of skills development that will empower our youth for an entirely different future and enable current employees to make any changes in direction that may be necessary as the economic environment changes.
“By way of example, before the industrial revolution, there were one or more blacksmiths in every town and city because the horse was the primary means of transportation. As the railways and motor vehicles replaced the horse, blacksmiths became redundant, but many more opportunities opened up as these new forms of transportation developed and had to be serviced.”
Daka sees the fourth industrial revolution following the same trajectory, with many more new jobs opening up than those that are being lost.
“The task that lies ahead is to equip current and future generations to take up and run with the challenges that this change will bring,” he says.
“And Ansys is both ready and eager to partner with government in opening up this exciting new world of possibility to our country’s people.”