n African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development - Automation and employment : the case of South Africa - research

Volume 10 Number 4
  • ISSN : 2042-1338
  • E-ISSN: 2042-1346
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In the two centuries since the Industrial Revolution technological progress has had a major impact on the types of work humans perform. The invention of increasingly advanced machinery decreases, on one hand, the need for certain forms of manual labour while, on the other, creating new needs and new types of work. Through continuous cycles of this process advanced industries have emerged enabling standards of living to rise across the world. The most recent wave of technological progress is characterized by increasingly intelligent computers and computer-driven machinery. This has coincided with the rise of economic inequality in previously egalitarian countries, prompting debate over the implications of the computer revolution for low and medium-skilled workers. In this study focus falls on the possible implications of these developments for the South African labour market. By using an oft-cited index of occupation computerization probabilities in combination with Stats SA labour market data, a future outlook is determined and presented. Findings suggest that the occupations performed by almost 35% of South African workers (roughly 4.5 million people) are potentially automatable in the near future.

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