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NWU summit focuses on human capital in Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is changing the way businesses create value, and how people work and individuals interact and communicate with each other.

It goes without saying that the 4IR will also have a huge impact on South Africa's economy.

Taking into account the country's current unemployment rate of 26,7%, the big question remains - how do we balance technological advancement and being competitive on the global stage on the one hand, with reducing the unemployment rate on the other?

To explore possible answers to this question, the North-West University's (NWU's) School of Industrial Psychology and Human Resource Management hosted its third annual Human Capital Summit on 11 and 12 July 2019 at the campus in Mahikeng.

This year's theme being "Human Capital in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)", the summit brought together industrial psychology and human resource management professionals, academic staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Xolani Mawande, a registered chartered human resources professional and CEO of the SABPP, was a keynote speaker at the summit.

According to Mawande, the key question is whether human capital professionals are ready to embrace 4IR, make use of its opportunities and manage any potential risks.

"There is no doubt that 4IR will cause a disruption in the economy. However, the best approach is to be proactive, open-minded and solution-oriented," he said.

"The current education system needs a radical transformation; traditional jobs as we know them today will not exist in the future. The challenge for academic institutions is to ensure extensive research is done to align the curriculum to the future worId of work."

Mawande added that reskilling needs to be a priority, even for jobs that might appear not to be affected, and digital skills are a critical component of this. "A strong pipeline of talent with the relevant skills and knowledge will be beneficial to both the public and private sector, to enable young people to find jobs and advance their careers."

Dr Moeletsi Leballo, a commissioner in the Public Service Commission and also a keynote speaker at the summit, identified five necessary skills in the public service arena during the 4IR. These skills are technical knowledge, high-quality data, collaboration with public and global networks, keeping an open mind and an agile workplace.

Other topics discussed during the summit included: managing Generation Z in the workplace, performance management, scarce skills in the 4IR, and what should be included in the human resource curriculum to produce competent graduates.