South African Cultural Observatory

Policy Implications of the 4th Industrial Revolution for the Cultural and Creative Economy

BY 06.12.19

The Observatory is tasked with measuring and providing reliable information on the economic value of South Africa’s cultural and creative industries (CCIs). This we do through conducting research about the sector in line with the research agenda. In this edition, as we shall do in future, we highlight key findings from some of our research outputs.

Policy Implications of the 4th Industrial Revolution for the Cultural and Creative Economy

Future developments within the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4th Industrial Revolution) entails a high level of complexity and uncertainty, particularly in relation to global economics of scale that indirectly have an impact on the Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs).

This research addresses global trends and drivers for change through environmental scanning efforts within the 4IR that have a direct impact on the creative economy in general and the Cultural and Creative Industries more specifically. A scenario-based strategic foresight methodology was in order to provide a basis for long term strategic visioning and planning for South Africa within the 4th Industrial Revolution with a particular reference to the Cultural and Creative Industries.

This paper contains an analysis of the main megatrends that will shape the future of our cultural and creative industries within the 4th Industrial Revolution. We propose three alternative scenarios adapting to the 4th Industrial Revolution towards 2030, with a specific focus on the implications for the cultural and creative industries, as well as recommended areas for action for decision-makers including policy makers, the public/ private sectors, the global donor and Cultural and Creative Industry development communities involved.

Strategic foresight, as part of mixed methods research, are globally referenced by futurists alike in foresight planning, including sectors within the cultural and creative industries within the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The proposed scenarios can be adapted within the local context and used in local strategic planning, long-term needs assessments, optional appraisals, programme and project implementation reference points, as well as indicators to identify potential risks (for example wild cards) to develop mitigating actions to overcome possible identified limitations that might exist for our future workforce within the 4th Industrial Revolution towards 2030.

Key findings can be summarised as follows:

  • Contrary to belief, the 4th IR already started in 2012, but as a society we are now entering unchartered territory.
  • The complexity and plurality of the 4th IR entails Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain applications.
  • It is now globally recognised that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) represents a fundamental change in the way we live, work and relate to each other. It is inevitable that, as with any revolution, it will effect change in desirable and undesirable ways.
  • The effects of the change of this revolution are already evident in the way in which societies produce, distribute, and consume the full range of goods and services that underpin human existence, and which drive human development. However, there are considerable differences in the pace of change within different socio-technical systems and between different countries. A particular area of intense change is in production systems leading many to frame and manage the transition brought upon by this revolution.
  • By 2030 over 2 Billion jobs, of existence today, will have disappeared, freeing up talent for many and new 4th IR fledging industries;
  • By 2030, a surge of Micro Training Colleges and Institutions will spring to life, as part of educating the future workforce. Each will require less than six months of training and apprentices to prepare us in switching or adapting to our professions.
  • Towards 2030, basic computer programming will be considered a core skill required in over 30% of future industries and work.
  • The future is arriving faster than ever before within the 4th IR. Mankind will experience more changes in our immediate future, than our combined history put together.
  • The 4th IR will offer many fledging opportunities to the creative sector and their creators. However, there is no room for Nihilism, as negative thinkers see difficulties in every opportunity and a positive thinker sees an opportunity in every difficulty.
  • Implementing the research actions requires substantial stakeholder participation, as well as cross-sectoral cooperation within the cultural and creative industries from a future(s) readiness perspective.

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