The University is acutely aware that new skills and solutions are required for businesses to thrive in the rapidly-changing world of work, due to the uptake of exponential technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), machine learning (ML), block chain, the internet of things (IoT), 5G, robotics and other technologies still to be conceived. As part of the University’s commitment to participate in the global economy, the institute will work with companies across sectors, including technology, financial services, health care and manufacturing, to create a community of advocates and partners at the highest level.
Prof van Staden, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, explained that the strategic essence of the Institute lies in the focus on mutually-beneficial partnerships with organisations in the public and private sectors. These include institutions of higher learning with outstanding international stature, science councils, funding agencies, as well as local and multinational businesses. “We are ready to launch, but more importantly, we are ready to put in the work and make IFoW a great success,” said Prof van Staden.
Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, who heads up the University’s Research, Innovation and Engagement, as well as the IFoW task team, said the Institute will house four programmes - a Technology Hub, Smart Campus Platform, 4IR/Future of Work Research Projects, as well as an Annual 4IR/Future of Work Dialogue.
She added that the task team has already made progress in terms of partnerships and collaboration. “We are excited to announce that we have also embarked on a partnership with the European Union Delegation (EUD), to work towards joint research and bilateral engagements on issues of common interest in South Africa and Europe. Moreover, the aim for the research the Institute conducts will complement various research endeavours at the University’s various faculties, its centres, institutes, technology stations and incubators (CITSIs), to position TUT at the forefront of scientific discoveries in creating knowledge that works,” Dr Papu-Zamxaka emphasised.
Tilson Manyoni, Chairperson of the TUT Council emphasised the importance of the Institute, especially taking into account that the University has six campuses located in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, namely the Pretoria, Soshanguve, Ga-Rankuwa, eMalahleni, Mbombela and Polokwane campuses. In addition, there are two learning sites based in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape respectively. Large numbers of students enrol from other provinces, as well as neighbouring countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Swaziland.
“Given this unique positioning, TUT plays a critical role in providing future-ready graduates to business and industry, while focusing on research and innovation to solve real-life challenges in South Africa and on the continent,” he said.
“This reality, coupled with TUT’s vision of “a people’s university that makes knowledge work”, has actually led to the establishment and now the launch of the Institute for the Future of Work. This will draw together global academics, businesses, government and society to harness the possibilities presented by the digital economy. We are looking forward to this genius initiative by the Tshwane University of Technology”, Manyoni concluded.
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