As technology becomes the basis of our lives, the approach to equipping ourselves for the future must continually evolve.
Technology careers can no longer just be about gaining a technical competence, and remaining confined to the IT field, or to the coding community.
ICT is the mainstream, and therefore ICT talent must look to gain broader capabilities to support their technical competences.
ICT is now an economic growth engine, which can narrow the digital divide, and support national economies as the COVID-19 recovery begins.
For it to do so optimally, ICT must not just be a platform, it must be an integral part of entrepreneurial thinking.
In preparing for this new reality, there are certain skills and types of awareness that will serve young people well in the future.
As more and more technical tasks become automated, our contribution to our organisations must come from that most human characteristic: our ideas.
This is not to say we do not need technical and information skills – we do. But given a good understanding of ICT and its possibilities, the most successful young people will be those with original ideas on how to apply it.
The WEF Future of Jobs Report predicts that creativity, innovation and ideation will be fundamental skills for the workforce of the future.
Like society itself, our individual success can come from creativity built upon a platform of technical knowledge.
As technology becomes mainstream, thanks to the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, every second piece of equipment we use will be generating data. This “Internet of Things” reality will see us swimming in oceans of data. In order for us to not just stay afloat, but surge ahead, we need to be able to interpret this data.
It is therefore useful for young people to develop their data analytics abilities alongside their acquisition of specialist skills like networks or switching knowledge.
Technology can enable almost any business strategy. The question is, what do we want that strategy to be?
Knowing the bigger picture will become increasingly important for ICT professionals going forward.
It is no longer good enough for a tech professional to just keep their head down and keep coding, for instance. He or she needs to know where their coding activities fit into the organisational and the global context.
For this reason, business strategy would be an invaluable skill for students to cultivate alongside their technical abilities.
The contemporary and future business environment will be a fusion of various technologies and cultural phenomenon that are only now coming to fruition.
This integration is exemplified by concepts like SMAC, the idea of a business software that combines Social, Mobile, Analytical and Cloud models.
This need not just be about software but about business skills per se. At present it is rare for someone to specialise in such diverse areas. But anyone who enters the entrepreneurial space with a full range of these skills will have a huge advantage.
In an integrated global economy, our colleagues are now more likely to be people from other countries.
It therefore becomes more useful to speak each other’s languages, and where this is not possible, to have some understanding of other cultures.
For example, an initiative such as Huawei’s Seeds For The Future Programme seeks to build cultural understanding as well as technical skills.
Participants get to experience technology, as well as culture in China, which equips them perfectly for a future where our cultures will be more integrated than ever.
This year the course takes place on-line from August 24th, benefitting 50 outstanding ICT students from several South African universities.
In SA the course is run in partnership with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, since 2016.
If we are going to use technology to bring ourselves together, we also need to understand one another.
In the future, it will be an advantage to understand more people, more fully. Anyone who does, and can cater to more people’s needs, will be more likely to succeed.
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