If you break down the definition of Industry 4.0, it holds that there have already been three industrial revolutions. The first was the introduction of industry’s ingredients, such as mechanisation and steam power. The second was the adoption of electricity and the arrival of mass production. Third came the computers and the start of modern automation.
The first and second revolutions have something in common: one started the momentum that the second then took to a higher order. This is happening again. The ingenuity of the third industrial revolution is now transforming into the fourth: a world where computers are ubiquitous and human/machine interactions will accelerate our development in ways we cannot even predict.
This means that the watershed between nations what will thrive in the 21st century and nations that will follow or even fade depends on how well a society can harness these new ways of thinking and doing. Teaching people technology skills is not simply about a skilled workforce, but unearthing the talent and vision that will set nations apart.
“When designing the academy is was important that it wasn’t just another training academy,” said Natasha Reuben, Head of Transformation at Dell EMC South Africa. “What the Khulisa Academy is doing differently is it’s saying: ‘How can we help solve world problems? How can we use technology to enable innovation?’ That’s the differentiator and why high-performance computing is so important.”
Nurturing the Future
Khulisa is a Zulu word for nurturing and it perfectly describes the academy launched by Dell in 2015. Whereas many such initiatives focus on basic technology literacy, the Khulisa Academy goes much further. It promotes high-performance computer (HPC) skills, with a focus on youth from disadvantaged communities and particularly to attract female learners, said Faustina Thobakgale, a 1st year HPC student at Khulisa:
“We learn a lot about IT, specifically high-performance computing and a lot of subtopics within that field as a whole. It’s a whole lot of things in one package.”
HPC systems are increasingly what powers the world behind our screens and for that matter any interaction we have with technology. From a website offering special deals to managing traffic lights to planning crop yields, machines have become a part of our everyday world – hence the 4th industrial revolution. Equipping a generation with the ability to take charge of those systems and develop their own ideas is crucial. No technology is useful unless it has a local context. This is about creating vibrant minds armed with the skills to make the future happen, not just to address the growing skills gap both locally and across the world.
One such Khulisa alum is Siyanda Zokoza, Entrepreneur and founder of I STAY @, an app service that helps students find university accommodation. He’s very bullish about the selection process and the goals of the academy:
“Khulisa looks for people who are innovative game-changers, people who will change South Africa and create employment.”
Zokoza knew from the beginning he wanted to be an entrepreneur. Khulisa worked alongside him to develop and design his own business. Today the I STAY @ service (I Stay At on the Android App store) is successful and growing, with Dell EMC as an incubation partner.