Although the government sees new technologies as an opportunity to innovate, it will ensure that automation-related changes do not affect the local labor market, says Thulas Nxesi, Minister of Employment and Labor.
“Automation is an enabling factor of innovation and not the other way around, it is important to understand this. Having understood this, we must then grasp other facts that economies are stimulated and driven by innovation, ”Nxesi said in a recent parliamentary question and answer session.
“If we talk about change, change should not be aimed at change but should be adapted to the needs of the economy and its population. There is a notion that has become a cliché about change because somewhere someone is talking about change rather than change dictated by our own environment. “
Nxesi 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 identify 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 for further discussion on how to develop policies that respond to changes in the labor market, as well as how to upgrade, retrain and produce future skills that will be needed by the economy.”
“As a country struggling with unemployment, we must ensure that change does not exclude our people in the world of work, but increases their productivity, mobility and addresses the needs of the population.”
The jobs most at risk of automation
A 2021 report of the OECD estimates that 14% of jobs are at high risk of automation. However, at the national level, higher automation risk was not associated with lower employment growth over the period.
This could be because automation promotes employment growth by increasing productivity, although other factors are also at play, the group said.
At the employment level, however, employment growth was much lower in high-risk automation occupations (6%) than in low-risk occupations (18%).
OECD data shows that the most labor-intensive jobs, such as food preparation assistants, assemblers and hunters, are those most at risk of automation. At the other end of the scale, CEOs, senior officials, and lawmakers are less likely to lose their jobs due to automation.
“Low-educated workers were most concentrated in high-risk occupations in 2012 and have since become even more concentrated in these occupations. Low job growth in high-risk occupations has not led to a decline in the employment rate of low-educated workers. This is largely due to the fact that the number of low-educated workers has fallen in line with the demand for these workers.
“Moving forward, however, the risk of automation is increasingly falling on workers with a low level of education and the Covid-19 crisis is likely to accelerate automation as companies reduce dependence on human work and contact. among the workers, or they restore part of production “.