Published January 2018
Who will still have a job in 2020?
Gosh, who cares about 2 years time! Everyone is worried about who will have a job end of 2018 right?
Fear not, I work with several economists and none of them are leaving South Africa, which is ironic because they are one of industries who are going to be replaced by what I will call in this article The Digital Revolution.
Within this term ‘The Digital Revolution’ I am collectively including everything that covers the internet, automation, The Internet of Things and any and all other technologies which are replacing the tasks of us humans, and in most cases doing a better job than us and at a far less cost to business owners!
Employment has been a subject of much debate in South Africa for a very long time. It is a real important subject in Africa in general. One report I found during research said we need to find over 180 million jobs in the next few years because of the job losses expected from The Digital Revolution
180 million jobs… that is all of South Africa’s population multiplied by 3.
I do want to quickly say sorry for what I feel is my second consecutive pessimistic article. I felt that my article on the IoT also had a shadow of gloom about it, fact is Google says 800 million jobs will be lost by 2030 because of this Digital Industry Revolution. If one is to believe Google, maybe we should pay attention and factor this risk into our planning?
When I say WE, I mean each individual business owner.
I am happy to add some sugar with my spice… or sugar with my salt… some good with the bad:
Fortunately countries with less money and technology are at less risk.
Back to the bad:
South Africa is one of the richest countries in Africa, so… we are likely to suffer a lot.
In fact, don’t be surprised if, in a few years’ time, you see the list below repeated as a list of countries who have suffered the most job losses to be in this order:
In South Africa, unemployment is around 27% of our workforce.
Yes, 1 in 4 people are unemployed. I do believe that 1 in 4 of those people unemployed need a major kick in the butt to help them wake up and see work is not going to come to them… it needs to be aggressively searched for and you cannot be so picky.
I extend that belief to any unemployed youth anywhere in the World.
In South Africa, most of our unemployed are our youth. Of course, younger people lack a sense of urgency by nature, and not because they are bad people.
Unemployment is not the core subject of this article, so I don’t want to ramble on about it too much, suffice to say that I believe in South Africa we are trying to fix this problem using the wrong tools. We are using a hammer when we should be using a precision screwdriver.
I am referring, of course, to what is being taught in school added with the attitude of our youth, many of our Matrics are walking out of their graduation ceremony and back home to watch TV.
I get CVs from these students every week. It is scary how many students are needing work.
Want to know what is more scary?
1 in 4 of those job applications I receive are being sent by a parent and not the child!
I know everyone is different: I had about 5 jobs when I was younger, and I reinvested in myself time and time again. I invoiced my first million when I was very young. I believed I did what Richard suggested time and time again:
Back then, I launched what appeared to be an entire company (on the web at least), from a bedroom in my grans house using nothing but a diary and a very old alcatel cell phone. I don’t like to share posts from my personal social media, but I did post something this week on my personal account which is really relevant here, so I will share:
Website design was my 3rd division in my company.
If there is a need… try make money off it!
Sure, you will fail sometimes… but you will have at least walked away with a lesson.
Like the time I booked myself out as a stilt walker for a Cape Town radio station’s event on the beach called Moonstruck… and I had never stood on a pair of stilts… but the invoice went out, it got paid, and I learnt…
Entrepreneurship and small business are the only viable solution in Africa. Working more than 2 jobs or more than one angle of income is a reality and where most youth, and even older people seeking more income are failing to understand: juggling three or four very different smaller careers is the new way to make a living.
I was very sad this week to hear of two South African Matrics who committed suicide because of their matric results. Our matric pass rate has also dropped in 2017.
So many students, so many people, looking for work, and business just cannot accommodate it. It is very depressing.
Closing off on this part of the subject, I want to make a repeated request to be invited to help the powers that be to implement some relevant technologies and guidelines to being an entrepreneur in South Africa into our school syllabus.. I have a few exceptional people in mind who could help me share with students’ tips and good practices on the positive influences of technology, and how easy it is to become an entrepreneur.
These two ‘subjects’ will have a far better influence on students than many other subjects.
So, moving onto how this The Digital Revolution
how it is going to make things worse!
The job market in South Africa is not as flexible as you might think and simply cannot absorb much in terms of disruptions.
This is because we have a few key industries offering sustainable jobs. Many of which are at risk by this The Digital Revolution.
You know a market is vulnerable when 1 million jobs in South Africa are there because of 15 companies only.
More scary: if you actually count the number of companies listed in the image it counts to 27, so someone has made an error?
We have about 1/10th of all our jobs because of handful of companies. The risk with this sort of situation which one could compare to the saying ‘’many eggs in so few baskets’’ is that the job market could crash if a few of these industries suffer at the same time. The Digital Revolution creates this exact scenario.
The industries employing the most people in South Africa are, and in no particular order:
You do not need to spend much time on Google to research how many problems some of those industries are facing in South Africa, most reporting little to no growth, and just about all are expecting to or have had their operations reduced in one way or another. I could spend a lot of time writing about some very scary facts about our economy, but I am not going to. What I will say is that South Africa is wobbling at the edge of a cliff. So many challenges. You cannot avoid the fact that there just isn’t enough work in our over regulated labour market.
It is important to look at some examples.
Let’s look quickly at two stronger economies, such as the US and Canada.
The one research article I read said they had lost 5.6 million jobs in 1 decade because of robots replacing humans in their factories. That is a huge loss in one industry alone. For context there are about 9 million jobs in all of South Africa industries…
Let’s look at another one.
The Automotive Industry.
Now I attend a few of their events each year for a number of reasons. I also spent New Years with someone who works in the UK and for that industry, and the company he is aligned with is migrating their operations away from having car dealerships entirely.
The entire industry is shifting away from ownership deals to leasing or rentals.
Many industries are moving away from ownership models to subscription or leasing business models.
This has always been a big interest of mine. The general consensus in South Africa is that this industry will grow steadily. I think the return we are getting from tourism could be shared a bit more if we create an SMME ethos of trusted services providers. I could write a lot about this, but will leave this for a future article.
Who likes money!
The last major industry I will give an example on cannot avoid job losses.
The entire banking industry and insurance sector is going to be the most revolutionized and South Africa has to follow trend or be left in what will be the new Stone Age. It’s going to happen. Middle men or women, are going to become near extinct.
Several other service based industries will also suffer: most will be linked to sales and custom care, transport, shipping and all sorts of logistics, healthcare and interestingly enough, legal support staff.
Let’s take a quick look at some of these warriors of The Digital Revolution:
You know it’s bad when Bill Gates has proposed that robots be taxed…
This futuristic hotel chain employs robotic staff that will carry guests' luggage, deliver laundry, clean the rooms, and make coffee.
Aeon Co., a major Japanese retailer, introduced a four-foot-tall yellow and white robot at a store in 2008 whose job is to babysit children while the adults shop.
Spread's robot lettuce farmers — Harvest 30,000 lettuce heads every day.
The UCSF Medical Center recently launched an automated, robotics-controlled pharmacy at two UCSF hospitals.
In Amazon AMZN, +2.23% warehouses, many of your packages may have been handled not by people, but by robots.
Want to see them at work?
There are hundreds and thousands of these robots around the world – and you need to consider most of The Digital Revolution force is not even a physical robot.
It is digital.
One video I watched did an interesting comparison. They discussed that if the internet was a country, it would be bigger than Spain. The sector, as an industry is bigger than energy or even agriculture.
Want to see how much your job is at risk?
I love this website: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34066941
Type in your job title and it will tell you when you need to prepare to pack your stuff!
It would not be harmful to consider starting your own company, or joining the Clergy or perhaps if you becoming a Physician or Surgeon : these are the jobs least likely to ever be replaced according to my research. However, if I could make another suggestion: you probably safe with a government job as well.
Not all my research suggested gloom, and if you are to believe what is on the internet, you could believe that for every job that has been lost, 2.6 jobs have been gained. That standard of living is growing World Wide, with the maturity of the internet. Businesses using the internet, tend to grow twice the speed, or export twice the rate.
Time will tell.
I believe that no matter what Analysts write, South Africa stands to struggle and will lose jobs to automation and the digital revolution. This is because we are too busy with our political fuss to pay attention to the opportunities here today, to create work during this revolution.
I fear by the time the powers that be come to terms with this movement, they will overreact and move to over legislate, which will further slow down our progress and economy : leading to even more job losses.
Published January 2018