7 top skills in demand by companies in South Africa

 ·22 Oct 2017

Which skills are most in demand by employers? Addressing this important question can help you decide which college courses to study, and will give you an idea of which career paths will give you the best employment opportunities, says Oxbridge Academy.

Here are some of the top skills that South African employers are looking for, according to ADvTECH.

Statistical Analysis and Data Mining

In today’s digitally dominated world, IT-related skills are far and away the most sought after skills globally and in South Africa. In a comprehensive 2016 LinkedIn study, statistical analysis and data mining (the process of sorting through large data sets to identify relationships and solve problems) was ranked as the top skill wanted by employers in South Africa.

If you have the know-how and ability to analyse statistics and data related to marketing, finance and business intelligence, then you have a very good chance of landing a job.

Network and Information Security

With businesses moving their capabilities and data onto digital platforms, the need to protect this information is becoming more urgent than ever before, particularly in the face of increasingly sophisticated cybercriminals.

The 2016 PWC Global Economic Crime Survey found that 32% of organisations in South Africa have been victims of cybercrime, and this number is growing rapidly.

Unsurprisingly, Network and Information Security climbed two places on LinkedIn’s list of top skills in demand in South Africa.

Software Development

Developing innovative, user-friendly software has become a necessity for businesses that want to stay competitive. Software development (especially in Java and C#) is the most sought-after skill set on job portal Career Junction, with the latest Career Junction Index showing a 6% jump in demand for software developers from July to August 2017.

Java programming also came in at number two on LinkedIn’s South African top skills study.

Web Development

Every modern company needs a website, and there is also a need to constantly update website content, user interfaces, visuals and functionality.

Web development is a thriving, rapidly growing job sector, with demand likely to remain high for many years to come.

A quick search on job site Adzuna reveals that there are more than 3,700 web developer vacancies currently being advertised in South Africa, with a healthy average annual salary of R455,000.

Management Skills

Management positions have been and always will be amongst the most sought-after jobs across all sectors. In South Africa, skills shortages are rife in this area, so starting any career with the long-term goal of becoming a manager should give you some solid future prospects.

The Career Junction Index found that “employment opportunities for professionals in management are plentiful,” and that finance managers and sales managers are particularly sought after.


Sales are the defining success factor for most businesses. With the corporate world becoming ever more competitive, employers are channelling more of their time and money into hiring sales staff.

Career Junction’s research found that demand for sales representatives and consultants leapt by a full 25% in the first half of 2017. If you are a people’s person with a talent for closing deals, then a sales career could be a savvy choice.


A high proportion of engineering graduates choose to work in countries outside South Africa, resulting in skills gaps in this sector.

Engineering occupations dominate the Department of Labour’s National Scarce Skills List (2014), occupying the top three positions and six of the top 10.

Once you’ve completed a national engineering qualification and you start applying for jobs, employers may well be clamouring to hire you.

Read: 5 jobs you could be doing in 2025 – which don’t currently exist

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