Vice Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala expressed that as the human race, we were merely spectators and not subjects in the first three industrial revolutions – until now. With the fourth one looming, the use of artificial intelligence, drones, sensors, and disruptive technology are being explored in all industries.

An example of one entity that is looking to align itself with the fourth industrial revolution is the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development. The DID recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Johannesburg. The two institutions committed to a five-year partnership related to the deployment of smart technologies to accelerate the delivery of public properties, underpinned by a massive skills development programme.

As a training hub that is 100% owned by the university, Resolution Circle will spearhead the skills development programme and play the role of project manager.

Bringing the success of the Jozi Digital Ambassadors programme, the expertise of providing work-based experience to electrical and mechanical engineering undergraduates for five years, and the experience of training professionals in the ever-changing engineering industry to the table, Resolution Circle will offer workshop-based training in scarce skills trades such as carpentry, boiler making, plumbing etc. to the department’s Expanded Public Works Beneficiaries (EPWB); and train its artisans to become trainers.

Excitement was the order of the day at the Impophoma House in Johannesburg Marshalltown as MEC, Jacob Mamabolo conveyed to those present that the DID is deeply delighted with the initiative. DID HOD – Bethuel Netshiswinzhe pointed out that partnerships such as this one need to be forged as knowledge and research reside in Universities.

As this partnership rolls out in the next five years, we will see the department developing smart infrastructure in a smart way through the universities advice on practices and technology that foster the efficient delivery of infrastructure. We will also see thousands of individuals acquire scarce skills through the skills development programme, and enter the construction industry or become individual contractors.