South African youth think machines will take their jobs, but don’t want to learn to code

Vodafone has published the results of a study it commissioned into the attitudes of youth about skills, employment, and the economy.

YouGov conducted the research, interviewing 18 to 24 year-olds across 15 countries – including South Africa.

There were 504 respondents from South Africa, who were mainly from Gauteng.

57% said they received inadequate or no career advice at all while at school or university, which was better than the average for all 15 countries (67%).

Of those who received career advice, 46% said it focused purely on traditional jobs, such as accountants, lawyers, doctors, and mechanics.

Only 17% said they were advised about “future-focused, digital jobs.”

The researchers also asked the respondents to select three jobs which appealed to them as a potential future career, from a list of 20.

76% of the respondents in South Africa were interested in traditional lines of work – while 62% showed interest in modern careers.

It is interesting to note that 46% said they believe the growth of artificial intelligence and the use of big data and automation will cause most jobs to be replaced by machines within 50 years.

However, only 10% of the South African respondents listed “Coder” among their top three job picks.

Only 3% listed machine learning analyst, and 10% chose robotics engineer.

Many more wanted to be YouTube stars, with 20% saying they wanted to be a YouTuber or video blogger.

17% said app designer and 16% said game designer.


The careers South Africa’s youth are most interested in, according to YouGov’s research, are listed below.

Marketing/Sales 23%
Accountant/Finance Worker 22%
Lawyers 21%
YouTuber/Video blogger 20%
Teacher/Teaching Assistant 18%
App Designer 17%
Game Designer 16%
Nurse/Doctor 14%
Mechanical Engineer 12%
Journalist 11%
Fitness Instructor/Sportsperson 11%
Internet of Things product designer 10%
Coder 10%
Robotics Engineer 10%
Pilot 9%
Automation engineer 9%
Cyber security specialist 8%
Construction worker 5%
Drone Pilot 4%
Machine learning analyst 3%

Now read: Career advice from the man who founded Outsurance and now runs Rain Mobile

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South African youth think machines will take their jobs, but don’t want to learn to code