Technology and the future of work

Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2019


Hosted by Uber, the conference, “The Future of Work”, held in Cape Town today, steered an open discussion on the main changes taking place in the world of work.

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While these changes may not be as fast or as deep as some might suggest, around the world, including South Africa, it is clear that there are ongoing shifts towards more diverse and broader concepts of work. Uber’s Public Policy Manager, Guy Levin, opened the discussion by explaining, “There is clearly a demand for more flexible, independent forms of work. While this change is occurring across most of the economy, digital technologies in particular are opening up reliable, diverse and unprecedented opportunities for income generation - often for those who need it most.”

The Future of Work panel, moderated by well-known radio presenter, TV news anchor and producer, Joanne Joseph, challenged the panellists for deeper insights and supported findings into how the future of work is changing the traditional model of employment and how individuals and businesses can adapt to the ever changing Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). 

Top speakers included: 

• S’onqoba Vuba, Co-founder and Managing Director, Perpetu8

• Mothunye Mothiba, Chief Executive Officer, Productivity SA

• Mosidi Modise, Senior Analyst, Allan Gray, Africa Project Lead Shaping the Future of Work 

• Co-founder of Future.Africa, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji 

• Meghan Taylor, Partner for Boston Consulting Group 

• Mthunzi Mdwaba, Vice President for International Organisation of Employers in the International Labour Organisation & Global Spokesman for Employers at International Labour Organisation.

Technological innovations are changing the way people provide and consume services. It is important to consider the context of independent work and the broader economic backdrop in South Africa. During the mornings events, topics and solutions were discussed around this topic, and included insights on how can SMEs and entrepreneurs can be skilled during the 4IR,  how can technology assist in helping entrepreneurs and the youth grow their skills and businesses, as well as how the online marketplaces can power employment across Africa.

Independent work can be an important tool to support people during transitions, including those arising from job displacement. Being able to quickly start earning a living, and fit work flexibly around retraining will help people adapt to the future. However, no one will be forced into the gig economy. But those who embrace the value proposition created by the digital age, and want to participate as independent partners, rather than employers or employees, are entitled to every opportunity to make their living on their own terms. 

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