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What to study now?

Nothing in life stays the same, especially for education in a world with lockdowns and remote working and learning. Everything is changing quickly and it’s imperative that we equip our children for this new, online world.

While we may have heard about the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (the automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices using modern smart technology) before Covid-19, the onset of the pandemic has accelerated the move towards business being conducted online.
Education expert and head of faculty at the Independent Institute of Education, Nola Payne, says that careers of the future will increasingly require people qualified in fields involving the cloud, internet of things, big data, cyber security, artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality. “Students would do well to investigate and consider careers where qualified professionals are likely to remain in high demand in coming decades.” Here are some of her suggestions for the most popular fields of study:

These jobs often go hand-in-hand. Mobile app development is one of the fastest growing disciplines. There is a big skills gap in this area, so there are many opportunities, and it is also a good fit for those interested in becoming entrepreneurs. On the web development side, the increase in social media advertising has increased demand. Most companies today invest in e-commerce solutions, while all companies regardless of size should have their own website.

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Both are existing careers, but are constantly evolving for operation in the cloud and on digital devices. There is also growing demand for improved security, with databases and application systems shielded from attack while being properly managed and networked.

Dedicated cyber security experts are some of the most in demand professionals. With hackers and bad faith actors growing in their numbers and ability to sow havoc in public and private organisations across the globe, these professionals play a vital role in shielding their employers from attack. Their role is to secure websites, company data, and sensitive information in the cloud.

Network engineers integrate and connect computer systems and networks across various platforms such as mobile devices, the cloud and traditional systems. More than ever before, business is being conducted online, translating to increased job opportunities for network administrators and network managers who can help businesses securely use these technologies.


If you enjoy mathematics, statistics and programming and have an analytical brain, this is the career for you. These professionals analyse and make decisions based on big data – massive amounts of data often obtained through people’s interaction on web pages. The aim is to analyse and respond to client needs and source new clients.

All these fields are at the cutting edge of current technology, and are set to grow exponentially in future. These are very exciting emerging opportunities and prospective students should ensure they speak to a student advisor at their higher education institution of choice to enquire about how their offering matches these career paths.

Details: Information supplied by the Independent Institute of Education (IIE), a division of the JSE-listed ADvTECH Group, Africa’s largest private education provider: www.iie.ac.za

Text: Leah Shone

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