Review Article

The South African public service and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Norman T. Nhede, Adrino Mazenda, Tyanai Masiya
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 10, No 1 | a420 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v10i1.420 | © 2022 Norman T. Nhede, Adrino Mazenda, Tyanai Masiya | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 May 2020 | Published: 12 May 2022

About the author(s)

Norman T. Nhede, School of Public Management and Administration, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Adrino Mazenda, School of Public Management and Administration, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Tyanai Masiya, School of Public Management and Administration, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: With technology now being embedded in almost every business, it can be argued that the advancement in technologies has brought the world at the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). This article, focuses on developing countries, with specific reference to South Africa. Competition in the provision of goods and services, as well as constant changes in the preferences of customers, has resulted in the need for the public service to come up with novel skills and strategies in the use of modern technologies aimed at improving service delivery.

Aim: Firstly, the article identifies the critical drivers for advanced technological changes, and the opportunities and challenges of embracing the 4IR. Secondly, it makes suggestions on how South Africa’s public service can enhance its preparedness to embrace technological changes in order to harness the opportunities and mitigate the impact of the 4IR.

Methods: The study followed a qualitative approach, using secondary documents, analysing and providing insight on embracing the 4IR in the public service.

Results: This study established that South Africa is amongst the countries that have not yet fully embraced the digital transformation of the economy. The public service should utilise technology to help solve service delivery challenges. Employees need to possess relevant skills to enhance service delivery.

Conclusion: The article concludes that comprehensive and robust education, including training and development programmes suitable for the public service, needs to be developed, in keeping with the 4IR’s requisite skill requirements. The government needs to align its human-resource policies to the 4IR.


Keywords

Fourth Industrial Revolution; public service; training and development; artificial intelligence; robots; cyber security

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