By Kethan Parbhoo, chief marketing and operations officer at Microsoft SA
Cloud computing could potentially generate more than 165,000 new jobs between 2017 and 2022 in South Africa.
This is according to the latest research by IDC and Microsoft, which looked at the impact of cloud services and the Microsoft ecosystem on the South African economy.
These jobs are not confined only to the IT profession. They span across areas including marketing, sales, finance and administration, production and service.
In fact, global research suggests that 80 percent of the jobs we expect to see as soon as 2025 don’t even exist yet.
Already, several jobs exist that we hadn’t even thought about a decade ago:
Cloud computing specialist
Ten years ago, if you said you work in the cloud, you would have been met with some confusion. But according to the IDC and Microsoft, the adoption of cloud services in South Africa has gained momentum over the past few years.
Public cloud services accounted for 3 percent of overall IT spending in South Africa in 2017, and in 2022, IDC expects public cloud services to account for 6.6 percent of overall IT spending.
It’s no surprise then that cloud computing specialist jobs have seen significant growth. Between 2008 and 2013, these jobs saw growth of 1,700 percent. But in South Africa, there remains a skills gap. In fact, a recent worldwide survey conducted by Microsoft found that 37 percent of respondents in the Middle East and Africa region cited a skills gap as the main barrier to cloud adoption.
In South Africa, as is the case in many countries across the world, cloud skills are in short supply and competition for suitably qualified professionals is fierce.
That’s why Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Cloud Society programme across the Middle East and Africa. The programme offers training, certification opportunities, and face-to-face engagement opportunities to meet with Microsoft cloud experts. The programme is designed to support the region’s aspiring cloud computing specialists to become world class cloud computing experts. In just over a year since launching, the programme has reached over 100,000 members and has changed the way Microsoft approaches skills-building across the region.
Big data analyst
With data volumes growing at a rate of 40 percent per year thanks to the cloud, it’s no wonder people who can analyse and process all this information are in high demand.
Big data analysts are tasked with collecting and interpreting large data sets to find insights that give their company the competitive edge.
In fact, data scientist has been named the best job in America for three years running, with an average job satisfaction score of 4.2 out of five according to Glassdoor’s 50 Best Jobs In America For 2018.
According to the Africa Data Forum, there is a shortage of data science skills on the continent compared to the growing demand for data analytics. This presents an opportunity for African citizens to find employment if they are simply able to acquire these much-needed skills.
Although taxis have existed for decades, we certainly couldn’t see their location via our phone, pay without using cash and give the drivers a rating. Ride-sharing services have created thousands of job opportunities across the world, serving over eight million users in 70 different countries.
How does the cloud play a role in this job creation? Managing director of IT market research company THINKstrategies, Jeff Kaplan, explains that companies like Uber and Airbnb are poster children for the sharing economy that wouldn’t be possible without the advances in connectivity, cloud and ‘Software as a Service’ we’ve seen in recent years.
So, next time you make use of a ride-sharing service, consider how the cloud is enabling your driver to make a living while at the same time offering you a convenient service.
Driverless car engineer
Interestingly these new jobs may only be temporary as companies across the globe invest in technology for driverless cars. This highlights the reality that while several of today’s jobs have only recently come into existence, some of these are already in decline as new technologies call for entirely new skillsets. In turn, this highlights the need to keep learning to remain afloat in the new world of work.
When you think of autonomous cars, you probably don’t associate them with cloud computing and data analytics. However, that’s exactly the technology that makes autonomy possible. Tapping into a remote cloud computing network, cars can talk to each other to avoid accidents, download up-to-date-maps and traffic information and make potentially life-saving decisions.
That said, driverless cars aren’t able to mend themselves (yet), so engineers, mechanics and software developers who work on these vehicles will be also increasingly in demand.
A new kind of worker to do newly created jobs
These newly created jobs will belong to a new kind of worker. They require new skills, an entrepreneurial approach, flexibility, agility and the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn new skills quickly.
Education is the first step in ensuring we are up to the challenge. It’s evident that learning new and more relevant digital skills is vital if we are to survive in a world increasingly steered by technology.
Rather than eliminating jobs, the cloud is creating new and different jobs. The key is to equip ourselves with the skills we need to evolve along with the world of work.
To learn more about how you can become a cloud computing expert by joining the Microsoft Cloud Society programme to fast track your cloud career click here.