Rather than the usual doom and disruption that is the hallmark of this feature, I thought I would try highlight some of the upsides of the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Besides many jobs being relegated to machines because they are dull, dirty or dangerous, here is at least one career path that will need bright and enthusiastic human intervention. Mobile Application Development, or simply app developer.
This is the quintessential career that did not exist when this year's matrics started school, and the SA LinkedIn jobs portal lists over 2500 available positions right now.
Mobile app developers are a subset of programmers that have existed since we first made a machine go beep. However, this field focuses on the specific applications that will run on mobile devices using one of the dominant operating platforms namely Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS.
Apple have trademarked the phrase "There's an app for that".
There are more that just these two, so keep an eye on what Amazon are up to. Besides the platform your career would also require you to have training in one of the popular programming languages like Java or Objective C. You would also need to get to know the SDK’s (software development kits) offered by the platforms to make the most of the mobile phone functions and graphic capabilities and a good understanding of APIs (Application Programming Interface) - not that anyone uses the full name.
Online courses should allow anyone with even a basic understanding of computers and code to get up and running in no time.
But just because it is easy to get started does not guarantee you will be a superstar.
Like any career, simply knowing how to do something is only good enough to get your foot in the door - to thrive you need to have an aptitude and willingness to work it.
When the app platforms began with the launch of the smartphone about a decade ago, writing apps was hard and few people knew how to use them. Since then, the app environment has exploded with both iOS and Android having over 1.5 millions apps available for download and both boasting in excess of 50 billion downloads to the approximate 3 billion smartphone users worldwide.
The Apple environment which gives 70% of revenues to developers has surpassed the $70 billion mark in the last 10 years. That may not sound impressive. But, consider that revenues would have been very low for the first few years. This figure also excludes revenue for Android. Considering we're at only 50% penetration of the global population - there is still quite a bit of room to grow.
The most popular category (for the App Store) is games followed by business applications, education and lifestyle.
You can even build your own without programming skills as long as it is a good idea.
If the Apple show Planet of the Apps is an indicator of how they would like to see it grow, then it may be the new rockstar career. The show allows hopeful app developers to pitch their ideas to celebrities and VCs to get funded and turn their app into a meal ticket.
If you are looking for a career change - or worried about what your child should study - consider this as a good option to investigate.