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The world is changing for digital immigrants: Are you ready?

Mancosa launches futuristic School of Information and Digital Technology

Mancosa’s SIDT introduces smarter learning that bridges the gap between dreams and reality.
Mancosa’s SIDT introduces smarter learning that bridges the gap between dreams and reality.
Image: Supplied/SIDT/iSTOCK

In Industry 4.0, the divide between digital natives and digital immigrants has become more pronounced. A digital native is a term used to describe a person who has grown up and developed under the ubiquitous influence of modern digital and information technologies, while a digital immigrant has grown up before its widespread use. 

Industry 4.0 has been characterised by excessive automation, obsessive optimisation, cyberspaces replacing physical ones and more human reliance on intelligent machines. The evolving digital ecosystem is more a home for a digital native rather than a digital immigrant. Some digital immigrants have responded by reskilling themselves — people from a range of industries, leaving behind their professions to become technology maestros. While digitals skills have become a mandatory requirement for 21st century professionals, this route of reskilling is neither feasible nor desirable for most digital immigrants. 

Digital natives appear to be more instinctively attuned to Industry 4.0 and some would argue that they will progress faster in the digital era. So what does this mean for digital immigrants? Early retirement? A more intense fight for the shrinking number of jobs that remain untouched by digital infusion? Perhaps not. 

Paresh Soni, director of Mancosa's SIDT.
Paresh Soni, director of Mancosa's SIDT.
Image: Supplied/SIDT

Paresh Soni, director of Mancosa’s recently launched School of Information and Digital Technology (SIDT), believes the future is bright for digital immigrants. “We need to understand that the digital economy requires a diversity of people with an assortment of digital skills. After all, not everyone in the digital economy can be a coder, a cloud specialist, or an artificial intelligence developer.”  

There is no doubt that every sector and industry will be required to digitally transform. But Soni believes “to get there, we need a good balance and mix of basic, intermediate and specialist digital skills. We are witnessing this development already, where digital immigrants are realising they need not digitally transform themselves into IT gurus and tech fundis. Instead, digital immigrants are equipping themselves to compete in the digital economy by identifying their niche.” 

A few examples include: a CFO with a sound understanding of how blockchain can revolutionise finance systems, governance and security; a sales manager with better insight into how AI can be leveraged to grow revenue, a small-business owner who can leverage digital commerce platforms and solutions to reach a bigger market; and a school principal with a firm grasp of how to lead cloud adoption to better support learners. 

Soni says that beyond the demand for IT gurus and hard-core tech fundis, which will always be there, industry 4.0 also requires digi-SANs (digital artisans), digi-TIVEs (digital executives whose primary portfolio does not include technology), digi-TORs (digital creators), digi-NEURs (digital corporate entrepreneurs) and digi-TERs (digital co-ordinators), who work across functions and departments and are able to create value in a digital space.

As the world moves towards the fifth industrial revolution (5IR), reskilled and upskilled digital immigrants will have an equally important role to play as their digital native counterparts. The 5IR promises to bring the human back to the forefront of thought. It is a space where humanism, empathy, civility, inclusivity, creativity and purpose will thrive alongside profit and digital transformation. 

To respond to this urgent need to digitally reskill and upskill professionals from all sectors, industries and areas of specialisation, Mancosa recently launched its futuristic SIDT. 

The new school promises to provide fit-for-purpose, modern learning and skilling opportunities to digital natives and digital immigrants across sectors and industries. Says Soni: “Our new school offerings comprises an assortment of courses aimed at school leavers, working professionals and business leaders. These include formal learning (undergraduate and postgraduate) as well as short learning programmes. A range of shorter courses, such as 100% online self-paced programmes, blended hands-on training (BHoT) and masterclasses were developed to address basic, intermediate and expert skills for the digital economy.

“We want to assure digital immigrants that they will be able to successfully traverse the perils of the rapidly evolving modern digital economy with the right skilling opportunities. Most importantly, we will also endeavour to re-humanise tech education in the age of machines, automation and artificial intelligence,” says Soni. 

Watch the launch of the SIDT video below:

This article was paid for by Mancosa.