Last week extraordinary Professor Peet Strydom hosted the 18th annual Ruiterbosch conference. Proff. Viviers and Krugell were privileged to attend along with other academics, public, and private sector economists. The theme of this year’s conference was technology and the international and SA economies.
Economists tend to think of technology as the A-term in a growth model, but here we took the broad view and discussed developments in robotics, 3-D printing, big data, social media and the so-called sharing economy and gig economy, and what it means for growth in the context of production in global value chains. The argument is the technology does not destroy employment, but it is destroying certain jobs: The labour doing routinized work with codified knowledge has been and is still being outsourced, off-shored, or substituted by capital. The complementary effects of technological progress is biased in favour of high skills. This has particular implications for trade and industrial policy in South Africa and for the importance of education and training. The afternoon was concluded by an interesting presentation on African economic prospects by Thalma Corbett of NKC.