While the government sees new technologies as an opportunity for innovation, it ensures that changes in automation will not affect the local labor market, says Minister of Employment and Labor Tulas Nxesi.

“Automation is a means of innovation, not the other way around, it is important to understand this fact. Once we understand this, we need to understand other facts that innovation stimulates and drives the economy, ”Nksesi said in a recent parliamentary question and answers.

“When we talk about change, change should not be for the sake of change, but adapted to the needs of the economy and its population. There is a concept that has become a cliché that speaks of change, because somewhere someone is talking about change, not about the changes dictated by our own environment.

Nshesi added that President Cyril Ramaphosa has set up a commission to help the government take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital industrial revolution. The commission will further define relevant policies, strategies and action plans that will position South Africa as a competitive global player, he said.

“The work of the commission will be presented to Nedlac to further discuss how to develop policies that will respond to changes in the labor market, as well as how to improve skills, retrain and develop future skills that will be needed by the economy.”

“As a country struggling with unemployment, we need to ensure that change does not exclude our people from the world of work, but increases their productivity, mobility and needs.”

Works are most at risk of automation

A Report for 2021 The OECD estimates that 14% of jobs are at high risk of automation. However, at the national level, the higher risk of automation was not associated with lower employment growth during this period.

This may be because automation promotes employment growth by increasing productivity, although other factors are also at work, the group said.

However, at the occupational level, employment growth was much lower in high-risk occupations (6%) than in low-risk occupations (18%).

OECD data show that more labor-intensive jobs – such as cooking assistants, gatherers and hunters – are at greatest risk of automation. At the other end of the scale is the least likely to lose a job due to the automation of executives, senior officials and legislators.

“Low-skilled workers were more focused in high-risk occupations in 2012 and have since become even more focused in these occupations. The low growth in the number of jobs in high-risk occupations has not led to a decline in the employment rate of low-skilled workers. This is largely due to the fact that the number of workers with low education has declined in line with the demand for these workers.

“However, in the future the risk of automation is increasingly falling on low-skilled workers, and the Covid-19 crisis is likely to accelerate automation as companies reduce reliance on human labor and employee contacts or cancel part of production.”


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