Enterprises UP study determines vital skills for fourth industrial revolution

Posted on April 16, 2021

A team of experts from Enterprises University of Pretoria (Enterprises UP) recently completed a study to support ongoing research by the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing (FP&M) Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) into the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The study aimed to identify key emerging technology trends that would impact SETA’s 13 sub-sectors and new future skills as prompted by these technologies. It was important for the SETA to gain these insights and perspectives to assist them in developing future training programmes.    

Emerging technologies will influence current applications in the workplace, and within these applications, there will be shifts in skills categories and skills application. For instance, emerging technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence will require the use of new skills within the existing applications of supply chain management and customer responsiveness. These new skills within existing applications are what the SETA wanted information about. 

The Enterprises UP team utilised a cloud-based search technology platform to conduct a worldwide search of existing prevalent emerging technologies within each of the 13 sub-sectors. This approach provided examples of which trends and emerging technologies are already in place  and leaves little room for speculation as it is entirely evidence-based. It was also important for the team to use more than 300 pieces of evidence to provide a focused view of each sub-sector and of how each recognised emerging technology was impacting it.

The second part of the study focused on translating the potential impact of these emerging technologies into future skill requirements. During this phase, the team utilised skills and competency experts to develop various narratives for the FP&M SETA. These outcomes were further validated by various expert panels to enhance the credibility of the process. The consensus view of these practitioners as to what the future skills will entail for each sub-sector was presented to the SETA’s board and executive committee.

It is not only the emerging technologies themselves that will cause disruption but also larger trends, such as sustainability, environmental issues, ethical practices, labour, smart-wear and consumer behaviour. These macro trends not only impact one another, but also serve as key drivers of emerging technologies individually and collectively. 

Based on the body of evidence, a wide range of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, 3D and 4D printing, virtual and augmented reality, drones, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data are already impacting or will impact each SETA sub-sector. 

The report demonstrates that organisations need to determine and prepare for the disruptions caused by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, how new emerging technologies will demand future skills, what these skills could be, and how to develop solutions in dealing with these. 

In addition to Enterprises UP’s Fourth Industrial Revolution capability, we can also assist your organisation to develop a workplace skills index. Contact our management team for more information, or visit our website. 

Dr Elmar de Wet

Research Solutions: Executive Manager

Tel: +27 (0)12 434 2350

Email:      [email protected]


Irvin Bogopa

Stakeholder Relations: Executive Manager

Tel: +27 (0)12 434 2554

Email:    [email protected]

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