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October 2017


In the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, one new force changed everything. And according to McKinsey, today our world is undergoing an even more dramatic transition as a result of the union of four fundamental disruptive forces – urbanisation, accelerating technological change, an ageing population and greater global connections – any of which would rank among the greatest changes the global economy has ever seen.


It is estimated that compared with the Industrial Revolution, this particular change is happening 10 times faster and at 300 times the scale, or roughly 3 000 times the impact. And although everyone know that these disruptions are happening, most fail to comprehend their full magnitude and the order effects that will result.

To add to this disruption, in a report on disruptive technologies the World Economic Forum observes that in many industries and countries, the occupations or specialties that are most in demand did not exist ten or even five years ago, and that the pace of change is set to accelerate. By one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist. When things change in the employment landscape at such a rapid pace, it seems that the ability to anticipate this change and to prepare for future skills requirement and the effect it will have on employment are increasingly important for individuals and companies to grab the opportunities presented by these trends (and in the same time mitigate the unwanted consequences).

An article about the Singularity University SA summit held in Johannesburg recently appeared on www.businesslive.co.za. At the event disruptive innovation expert David Roberts said that in the next ten years, 40% of the S&P 500 companies will disappear. He is quoted as saying, ‘Understanding disruption is not optional, it’s critical. There are no sanctuaries.’

Some might believe that this technological disruption might mean large-scale job losses, but Roberts has a more optimistic view. He argues that disruption and automation create more than they destroy. In countries such as the US and Germany, which have high levels of automation, unemployment is at record lows.

Technology, says Roberts, will enable people to do jobs that would never have been within their grasp in the past.

It is a refreshing view to see this disruption as an opportunity rather than a threat. It gives us all an opportunity to do things differently and to be more innovative – this will ultimately make you stand out from the crowd.

Just like our Top 35-under-35 finalists. These remarkable young CAs(SA) are not your ordinary accountants: they do challenge the status quo and just do things differently. They are 35 of the brightest young entrepreneurs, young leaders, innovators and game changers. Be ready to get inspired by their stories in this issues cover story.

Gerinda Engelbrecht


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