These are the 10 best job skills to have in South Africa – and the 10 worst

The World Economic Forum has published its 2020 Future of Jobs report, looking at how demand for certain job types are expected to change over the next few years.

Over the past five years, the forum has tracked and identified the potential scale of worker displacement globally, due to technological automation and augmentation.

“At the core of the report and its analysis is the Future of Jobs survey, a unique tool which assesses the short- and long-term trends and impact of technological adoption on labour markets,” the WEF said.

This allowed the forum to track technological adoption among global firms alongside changing job requirements and skills demand.

“These qualitative survey responses are further complemented by granular data from new sources derived from privately-held data that tracks key jobs and skills trends.

“Together, these two types of sources provide a comprehensive overview of the unfolding labour market trends and as well as an opportunity to plan and strategize towards a better future of work,” it said.

Rise of the machines

The WEF noted that over the next five years, tens of millions of jobs will be replaced by machines and automation – while millions of new jobs will emerge, necessitating new skills.

Using its extensive survey results, the WEF found that employers across the globe expect that, by 2025, increasingly redundant roles will decline from being 15.4% of the workforce to 9% (6.4% decline), and that emerging professions will grow from 7.8% to 13.5% (5.7% growth) of the total employee base.

Based on these figures, the group estimates that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms, across the 15 industries and 26 economies covered by the report.

“Similar to the 2018 survey, the leading positions in growing demand are roles such as Data Analysts and Scientists, AI and Machine Learning Specialists, Robotics Engineers, Software and Application developers as well as Digital Transformation Specialists,” the WEF said.

However, job roles such as Process Automation Specialists, Information Security Analysts and Internet of Things Specialists are newly emerging among a cohort of roles which are seeing growing demand from employers.

“The emergence of these roles reflects the acceleration of automation as well as the resurgence of cybersecurity risks,” the forum said.

The group identified the following 20 job skills as seeing increasing demand over the next five years:

  1. Data Analysts and Scientists
  2. AI and Machine Learning Specialists
  3. Big Data Specialists
  4. Digital Marketing and Strategy Specialists
  5. Process Automation Specialists
  6. Business Development Professionals
  7. Digital Transformation Specialists
  8. Information Security Specialists
  9. Software and Application Developers
  10. Internet of Things Specialists
  11. Project Managers
  12. Business Services and Administration Managers
  13. Database and Network Professionals
  14. Robotics Engineers
  15. Strategic Advisors
  16. Management and Organisation Analysts
  17. FinTech Engineers
  18. Mechanics and Machinery Repairers
  19. Organisational Development Specialists
  20. Risk Management Specialists

The following 20 job skills are likely to see decreased demand over the next five years, largely due to automation:

  1. Data Entry Clerks
  2. Administration and Executive Secretaries
  3. Accounting, Bookkeeping and Payroll Clerks
  4. Accountants and Auditors
  5. Assembly and Factory Workers
  6. Business Services and Administration Managers
  7. Client Information and Customer Service Workers
  8. General and Operations Managers
  9. Mechanics and Machinery Repairers
  10. Material Recording and Stock Keeping Clerks
  11. Financial Analysts
  12. Postal Service Clerks
  13. Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Tech and Science Products
  14. Relationship Managers
  15. Bank Tellers and Related Clerks
  16. Door-to-Door Sales, News and Street Vendors
  17. Electronics and Telecom Installers and Repairers
  18. Human Resource Specialists
  19. Training and Development Specialists
  20. Construction Labourers

The WEF noted that a set of roles are distinctively emerging within specific industries.

This includes Materials Engineers in the Automotive Sector, Ecommerce and Social Media Specialists in the Consumer sector, Renewable Energy Engineers in the Energy Sector, FinTech Engineers in Financial Services, Biologists and Geneticists in Health and Healthcare as well as Remote Sensing Scientists and Technicians in Mining and Metals.

“The nature of these roles reflects the trajectory towards areas of innovation and growth across multiple industries,” the forum said.

“At the opposite end of the scale, the roles which are set to be increasingly redundant by 2025 remain largely consistent with the job roles identified in 2018 and across a range of research papers on the automation of jobs,” it said.

Some skills, like Mechanics and Machinery Repairers are both increasing and decreasing in demand when broadly viewed – with demand growing in certain industries, and decreasing in others, while also seen as rising and then falling over the five-year period.

South Africa

The Future of Jobs 2020 report provides insight into the labour dynamics in South Africa, which include jobs in-demand and those set to become redundant.

According to the report, process automation specialists, data analysts and scientists, and social psychologists will see a big rise in demand.

Other professions which are set for growth are management and organisation analysts, business development professionals, and big data specialists.

Fields which will be negatively affected include accounting, payroll clerks, and client information and customer service workers.

South African job skills

The WEF’s findings are largely reflective of the latest on the most sought-after jobs skills in South Africa, which places software developers and engineers in high demand.

The latest CareerJunction Index shows that software developer, managers and marketers are the most in-demand skills in the country right now – all featuring on the WEF’s growing demand list. These skills have been highly sought-after in the CJI for the past year.

Similar data published by jobs site, Adzuna, also shows high demand for engineers, software developers, IT specialists and analysts in the country.

The WEF’s findings are also in-line with the South African government’s projections for job skills in South Africa through to 2030.

Government has been preparing for the fourth industrial revolution, which heralds the age of robotics and automation, as well as the impact this will have on skills demand in South Africa.

To better prepare for this, the government wants to change the school curriculum to focus on skills development in the fields of robotics, coding and engineering.

It has committed to a ‘skills revolution’ that will give the country human capital required for a digital economy, promising that more than one million young people would be trained in data science and related skills by 2030.

Though various support programmes such as the South Africa Research Chairs Initiative, and other targeted human capital development initiatives, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) is building essential capability in all technology areas underpinning the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

These include programmes in:

  • Data science and analytics;
  • Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies;
  • Additive manufacturing;
  • Artificial intelligence;
  • Robotics; and
  • Quantum technologies.

Young people are also currently being trained on:

  • Data Science;
  • Digital Content Production;
  • 3D Printing;
  • Cybersecurity;
  • Drone Piloting;
  • Software Development; and
  • Cloud Computing.

Read: These are the most in-demand job skills in South Africa right now

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These are the 10 best job skills to have in South Africa – and the 10 worst