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Gig economy and entrepreneurship in the fourth industrial revolution

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academic and civil society” (Schwab 20015) This paragraph shows the challenges surrounding the Forth Industrial Revolution.

With that being said, on the 1st of November 2019, a public lecture about the “Gig Economy and Entrepreneurship in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Addressing lack of jobs for millennial graduates” was held at the Vaal University of Technology. The students who are soon to be graduates live in a constant worry about what the future holds for them. Will they be able to find jobs after they finish school? Are they going to be able to make it in a real world with the knowledge they have obtained in their respective Universities and how the gig economy and entrepreneurship in the fourth industrial revolution will benefit them? These questions may seem to be the real life problems as we are looking at how the fourth industrial revolution changes the world in terms of what we do and who we are.

Dr Tumi Seodigeng who graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering and is also a lecturer in Bachelor of Technology: Chemical Engineering at the Vaal University of Technology encouraged students to look at the gig economy and entrepreneurship in the Fourth Industrial Revolution in a broader aspect, stating that students can also be the solution to the problems they are facing. He also stated that “Students should stop focusing on finding employment and rather start their own little businesses. Chemical engineering is a broad field and chemical engineering students have the opportunity to work for themselves instead of working for others. This may be through technical inventions, technical consultancy or other business ventures.  Students should come up with new innovations, ideas and get people to listen to them so they may be able to adjust themselves to being single contractors or to work for themselves as most big companies are adopting the Hollywood Model of working, where professionals come together as consultants at a specific company to complete a project then adjourn as soon as they are done with the project.” He further mentioned that employment is expensive these days. It is expensive in a manner that even if the company has no job for you it would still have to pay you.

Some people see the gig economy as promoting entrepreneurship and jobs that offer considerable flexibility work/life balance as well as opportunities for individuals to supplement their incomes by expressing their skills, abilities and talents. However, for some, the gig economy can also mean inconsistent income, less stability and less protection offered to employees. So it is important for chemical engineering students to continually build, expand and refresh their skills in order to stay competitive in the real business world.

In closing Mr Mpho Sekhwama (Chairperson: SOCHES) thanked the Alumni office for the patience in organizing the event, his team for the hard work and commitment they put in to make sure the event was a success, the audience for being engaged in the presentation and he also thanked Dr Tumi for availing himself for the event.

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