Original Research

What will it take to make a successful administrative professional in the fourth industrial revolution?

Annette A.J. Venter, Tessie H.H. Herbst, Chux G. Iwu
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 17 | a1224 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v17i0.1224 | © 2019 Annette A.J. Venter, Tessie H.H. Herbst, Chux G. Iwu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 May 2019 | Published: 29 November 2019

About the author(s)

Annette A.J. Venter, Deans Office, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Research and Innovation Unit, Faculty of Business and Management Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa
Tessie H.H. Herbst, Office of the Deputy-Vice Chancellor: Teaching, Learning and Technology, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa
Chux G. Iwu, Research and Innovation Unit, Faculty of Business and Management Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa

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Orientation: The rapid economic developments of the last decade have been driven by the impact of revolutionary developments in information and communication technologies. These technological developments have irreversibly and significantly affected the role of an administrative professional with regard to assimilation, processing and utilisation of information.

Research purpose: This study investigates the impact of global and national key drivers of change and transformation on the skills requirements of administrative professionals with the aim of developing a future-focused success profile to enable them to be effective in the new world of work.

Motivation for the study: The study is motivated by the personal experience of one of the researchers, and her observation of the impact of technological advances and the necessity for administrative professionals to integrate new skills, knowledge and attitudes into the new world of work.

Research approach/design and method: This study followed a mixed methods approach, using both pragmatist and constructivist paradigms. The pragmatist approach provides meaning through the natural work environment of an administrative professional, whilst a constructivist approach is followed to compile a whole-brain success profile. From a sample of 354, a total of 219 responses were received, which represent a response rate of 62%. Data were collected through a visual analogue scale-type questionnaire.

Main findings: The findings reveal that the skill requirements for the future success of an administrative professional involve proficiency to function from all quadrants of the whole-brain model.

Practical/managerial implications: The curricula of undergraduate qualifications should be adapted to allow for shorter credit-bearing skill modules in line with the latest trends in technology, because the profession of administrative professionals is mainly skill-based. In addition, owing to the focus of the study on the new world of work, the findings could be related to most occupations.

Contribution or value-add: This study contributes to the construction of a future-focused whole-brain model, according to the functional skills, essential skills and emerging skills required for optimal effectiveness of administrative professionals in the future-focused world of work.


functional; essential future skills; emerging future skills; administrative professionals; Fourth Industrial Revolution


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