A lot of peo­ple are afraid of robot­ics because they think it means robots are going to take over their jobs. That’s the wrong way to look at it. In fact robot­ics will cre­ate jobs and in South Africa this can only ever be good news.

Our high rate of youth unem­ploy­ment – even among uni­ver­si­ty grad­u­ates – is one of the biggest prob­lems in this coun­try. Six mil­lion peo­ple are unem­ployed in South Africa, 63% of them under the age of 35. If we’re smart we’ll grab the oppor­tu­ni­ty robot­ics presents to improve their lives and, in the process, improve our coun­try.

While old­er gen­er­a­tions grap­ple with the fast-chang­ing world of robot­ic process automa­tion (RPA), young peo­ple who were born into our dig­i­tal world are inher­ent­ly tech­ni­cal­ly capa­ble. They adapt fast, learn new tech­nolo­gies quick­ly, and aren’t fazed by con­stant­ly chang­ing con­cepts and evolv­ing data. So how do we use robot­ics to make them more employ­able?

Industries like tele­coms and finance (bank­ing, med­ical and oth­er insur­ance) have had great suc­cess in deploy­ing bots to han­dle rou­tine and repet­i­tive tasks such as pro­cess­ing claims. While South Africa has kept up with the rest of the world in pace and scale of using robot­ics to auto­mate process­es, there is still sig­nif­i­cant scope for deploy­ment.

The rapid growth in bot deploy­ment has led to a short­age of skills around the world which forces local com­pa­nies to employ ready trained staff from coun­tries where this exper­tise has been grow­ing over the last decade. This offers a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for South Africans with this skill to use it over­seas. This does how­ev­er result in high­er lev­els of vacan­cies here, which is why there is mer­it in train­ing robot­ics ana­lysts.

The ROI is obvi­ous for large com­pa­nies that want to become lean­er and remove time-con­sum­ing and expen­sive process­es, with the inevitable by-prod­uct of improved lev­els of cus­tomer ser­vice – and which com­pa­ny doesn’t want that?

For grad­u­ates, mul­ti-skilling and adding robot­ics process automa­tion makes them employ­able in var­i­ous areas and future-proofs them against replace­ment by bots. This is how we can take advan­tage of robot­ics as an emerg­ing tech­nol­o­gy, teach­ing the skills to the incom­ing youth and mould­ing their full skill sets to cur­rent and future require­ments.