SAIMC


SAIMC: From the office of the CEO: Is automation costing jobs?

March 2023 SAIMC


Johan Maartens.

The question on everybody’s lips is “Will automation lead to job losses?”

In Europe, predictions are doing the rounds that automation will result in 12 million jobs lost. Then there are also predictions that this will not be that bad, as people will move into other roles.

Europe can afford to have some roles replaced by automation since, according to Forrester Research, “the impact on the jobs market will be lessened because Europe’s biggest economies will have millions fewer people of working age”.

However in South Africa the story is different. South Africa does not have fewer people of working age. We have more every year. It therefore makes sense not to automate. That would mean South Africa can no longer compete in the international market since all countries must implement automation as a cost-saving mechanism. It means that all motor vehicle and other manufacturers will have to close their doors in South Africa and move to a neighbouring country, causing more job losses. What does a country need to implement automation?

A country requires the means to support the implementation of automation. To have the means, it needs a government that understands the concept. Governments must supply the strategies and policies that support the vision for the future and the will to implement them. The strategies and policies will then result in the appropriate infrastructure for the future, including power, education, etc. To have a government that understands the requirements for the future, you need a population that understands those needs to vote them into power. To have a population that understands the needs of the future, you need an education system and a media that understands and addresses them. Nobody is as clever as your teacher when you are young, and after that most people believe everything the media tells them.

Does South Africa have this in place? Starting all strategies and policies by blaming others, setting goals to rectify problems created 30-odd years ago, and strengthening already failed policies, whether justified or not, does not solve the problem. It plays to the crowd, shows an inherent lack of understanding of the big picture, and adds more opportunity for the taxpayers’ hard earned money to be embezzled. This becomes more and more evident as the years pass.

Moving people from one job to another takes two things: retraining and a willingness to change. Neither of these appears to be very high on the agenda in South Africa. The lack of self-respect and discipline makes it worse. A sense of entitlement stems from the continuous reference to “previously disadvantaged, so you now have the right to special treatment” − much like the “swart gevaar” rhetoric of the apartheid era.

The problem is not the government. It is the people who put them in charge who are to blame. Governments do their best with the little knowledge they have or think they have. It is the media that drives its own agendas without understanding the cost to the country’s economy, as long as it can sell newspapers. It is your fault and it is my fault if we sit back and complain without trying to sort out those things that are within our ability. Automation is here to stay if South Africa wants to play a part in the world economy. Or maybe South Africa will be satisfied with becoming a welfare state of Russia, China or some other country, selling its assets to the highest bidder?

Empowerment or welfare – that is the question.

Yours in automation

Johan Maartens.


Credit(s)



Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Reminiscences of a life in control
Michael Brown Control Engineering SAIMC
Reminiscences from Michael Brown on a long and rich journey in the world of automation together with SAIMC.

Read more...
SAIMC: From the office of the CEO: Cavemen to Chatbots
SAIMC
This month, we have a contribution to our Cavemen to Chatbots challenge. The idea is to reminisce on where our industry came from, and where it is headed.

Read more...
SAIMC: From the office of the CEO: Time for action
SAIMC SAIMC
SAIMC’s vision for 2026 identified several projects for the near future. Members often request a letter of support or recommendation for a new job. SAIMC has created a template that will enable it to provide you with a letter that will positively influence the reader.

Read more...
SAIMC: Durban branch – Annual dinner
SAIMC
The Durban branch of the SAIMC held their much loved and well supported annual year end dinner at the Mount Edgecombe Country Club in late November.

Read more...
SAIMC: Secunda branch
SAIMC SAIMC
The SAIMC Secunda branch recently hosted an ECSA workshop. It was facilitated by Johan Maartens, CEO of SAIMC. The purpose of the workshop was to guide candidates on the latest ECSA registration requirements for technicians, technologists and engineers.

Read more...
SAIMC gala dinner
SAIMC Supplier Advisory Council SAIMC
Under the skies of the most beautiful Johannesburg evening, the 2023 SAIMC gala dinner kicked off with champagne on the deck of the Fairway Hotel and Spa, and the stage was set for another glittering occasion.

Read more...
SAIMC: Durban branch
SAIMC SAIMC
The Durban branch October technology meeting was well attended, and the audience was keen to hear about navigating the digital value change and bridging the gap from sensors to the boardroom.

Read more...
SAIMC: Secunda branch
SAIMC SAIMC
The SAIMC Secunda branch held its monthly technology evening on 4 October at the Proconics office in Secunda. Bruce Bonte from Yokogawa presented on differential pressure and blocked impulse lines.

Read more...
SAIMC: From the office of the CEO: Changes at SAIMC
SAIMC SAIMC
During its 2026 strategy session, SAIMC discussed the exciting changes and challenges ahead, and plotted the way forward.

Read more...
Category 1 CPD points
SAIMC SAIMC News
SAIMC has decided to publish a quiz every month from information contained in I&C magazine. This quiz could earn you one CPD point in Category 1 if you pass with 80% or more.

Read more...