Think Tech And I

4IR in Township Youths

4IR in Township Youths

Technical expertise and digital access are said to be the kingmakers, particularly in a post-COVID-19 world. The pandemic has driven digital change to new heights. The predominance of digital transformation has grown increasingly entwined with our everyday lives, and it goes without saying that access has been confined to the more affluent due to resources-centered technical breakthroughs.

The latter has been made clear by the reality of how white-collar workers have smoothly transitioned to a new work from home paradigm. With the pandemic continuing, this transition may last for a while or become the new normal.

Workers in cash-based or cash-dependent businesses or sectors that involve contact, transportation systems, or physical labor, on the other hand, were not as fortunate, either continuing to work at danger to their health or losing their employment entirely.

Embodying all these characteristics, businesses in the township and informal economy in South Africa, facing lockdown restrictions and new challenges, had to find new ways to do business and protect their livelihoods.  The township or informal sector is easy to underestimate, but it makes up for almost 20% of GDP. Despite its importance to the economy as a generator of livelihoods, the township/informal sector is often neglected.

As we’re approaching what we all hope is that elusive “other side” of the COVID pandemic, the prevailing consensus is that we survived the pandemic largely thanks to technology. Most of the businesses that survived were able to do so through adapting their business with some form of technology, while other businesses flourished due to the fact that they were already advanced from a technology perspective.

Despite the digital divide, the dynamic township economy has endeavoured to keep pace with digital transformation. Thanks to the ingenuity and creativity of youth in the township, some businesses have managed to develop responses to this 4IR world. And while this might imply a glimmer of hope, it is sad how many are still being left behind as the world rapidly changes. 

Even with the noticed efforts of some of the youth adapting and adopting 4IR technologies in their small businesses and personal development, inequalities in access, connectivity and affordability still excludes the many. There has never been a greater need to pioneer the acceleration of access and competency within a 4ir skills context in the township among the youth. 

In a world where digital literacy can relatively be likened to one’s capacity to read and write, it is all the more important to invest in up-skilling the often marginalized and/or largely unemployed youth in our townships.Which is where we as Brighter Futures come into play, as an entity that drives the need to preemptively prepare our youth and equip them with relevant 4IR skills, lest they walk into their futures ill prepared; with knives to a gunfight.