Growth towards a tech-led economy in South Africa (SA) means young people can expect more business opportunities in tech than ever before in 2023. This is according to a leading skills development and placement agency empowering young people with skills fit for the future.
This challenging new epoch brings with it opportunities that can only be accessed by those adequately prepared with the skills and resources to become a part of the digital economy.
Afrika Tikkun Services (ATS) predicts a continuation of this tech and digital industry-led trend which presents lucrative opportunities for young people to ride the wave of the post-Covid-19 tech boom. “To maximise on this potentially generation-defining windfall, government needs to join hands with private entities to boost skills development relevant to the digital age and encourage entrepreneurship opportunities for young people,” says Onyi Nwaneri, CEO at ATS.
From the digitisation of the informal economy to entirely new markets and industries, SA sits at the precipice of the dawning of Africa’s digital age. With this comes opportunities for SA’s youth to become founders of tech start-ups with massive growth potential. Investor confidence in this area of the economy is at an all-time high. In May 2022, 357 of South Africa’s 490 tech start-ups raised nearly R17 billion in capital, mainly from private investment, according to Disrupt Africa. This demonstrates the healthy investment appetite for the tech industry in South Africa and affirms the position of this sector as the new growth frontier.
Institutions of learning are already coming to the party by introducing entirely new courses and updating existing ones to fit the skills demand of the era. The raising of resources and capital for tech start-ups requires a multisectoral effort that empowers young people to pursue these opportunities. “If we grab this unprecedented opportunity with both hands we can change the trajectory of youth unemployment by using this demand for services in the digital economy as opportunities for business and job creation,” says Nwaneri.
Addressing the digital skills gap
Compared to their peers in more developed regions of the world, many young people in SA are lacking the fundamentals of digital literacy. Whether as a result of a lack of connectivity or a lack of digital skills, individuals are missing out on the opportunities the digital world offers.
“In order to bridge the gap between those who have embraced digital transformation and those who have not, organisations such as ATS and its partners are essential.,” says Nwaneri. “ATS is committed to reducing the digital divide and empowering workers and the government to embrace and adapt to developments in technology in the future.”
According to a recent report by PWC, UNICEF, and Generation Unlimited, the global skills gap has been brought into sharp focus by the COVID-19 pandemic and this gap must be overcome with great urgency to expedite economic recovery. The pandemic has led to an unprecedented reliance on digital skills and there is no going back as this trend continues to affect all parts of the global economy.
The quick development of AI-powered technologies that are ushering in a new era of automation and the increasing demand for technological intelligence to compete in a shifting commercial landscape are behind the current gap between supply and demand of skilled labour. To overcome these obstacles governmental, commercial, and non-profit stakeholders need to bolster collaboration efforts towards this objective.
The Future of the Digital Economy is Now
As long as consumers and workers continue to rely on the “remote economy,” we can expect the digitisation of the economy to develop at an accelerated rate. Companies such as Microsoft predict that the need for digital transformation will intensify as organizations increase productivity in the face of an economic downturn.
“All sectors of society must embrace this shared goal to bring young South Africans up to par with their developed world counterparts in being empowered for the future,” Nwaneri concludes.