This morning I was reading an article in the e-edition of one of our country's largest newspapers. My heart sunk. Not because of the article itself but rather the implication for the thousands of farm workers that traverse the Cape Winelands as well as the country.
The last few months I've been attending inter-government department discussion forums about the focus of the country's National Development Plan and the 2040 Western Cape strategic document. The discussions repeatedly highlighted the need for youth skills development and addressing the needs of the economy to ensure sustainable jobs. Attached to this was the realization that we need to embrace and integrate technology on a massive scale to remain competitive both globally and regionally. Our country faces a severe challenge to address the demands of the 21st century if this doesn't gain traction. Next to this, we heard the constant refrain of job losses in the agricultural sector running into 1000s as mechanization takes off.
Back to the article. The author was celebrating how the apple industry in Ceres (and soon in Grabouw) has installed high definition cameras to sort and grade fruit. These cameras take 60 pictures of an apple and can grade it simultaneously as it moves on the assembly line for packing. It can photograph one million apples a day. Since the installation of the HD cameras, productivity and efficiency has increased by 25%, largely due to the fact that human eyes get tired over an 8-hour shift and machines don't. Spoilage is significantly reduced. And the penny drops...more jobs will fly out of the window because apple pickers are not highly skilled.
So, if you reading this and wondering how to counteract this, do yourself a favour. In 8 weeks time we celebrate Christmas. Instead of buying tonnes of 2-litre sugar drinks, meat and useless toys, take the money you would have spent and buy your child a mobile device, a good one. And get them data too so that they can start exploring the world via technology too. They damned if they don't!
And if you an educator still believing that we can teach our children like you've been taught and that technology is best left outside the classroom or switched off inside it, do yourself a favour ... get-with-the-programme. You are impeding progress!