South Africa desperately needs workers with these skills

 ·6 May 2024

South Africa is facing a massive skills shortage, which severely impacts business operations across the country.

According to PwC’s 26th Annual Global CEO Survey, 45% of CEOs in Sub-Saharan Africa and 52% worldwide said that not having enough skilled workers would harm their company’s profits over the next 10 years.

Recruitment Platform Pnet said that skills shortages can harm businesses in several ways:

  • Costs increase because of higher salaries for scarce skills.

  • Productivity can drop when essential skills are lacking, leading to heavier workloads and stress for existing staff.

  • Projects may be delayed, and overall business growth can be limited as a result.

Pnet has thus investigated scarce skills in the South African recruitment market and the sectors most affected:


The job fields below that are particularly difficult to fill for employers:

  • Civil / Structural Engineering
  • Electronic Engineering

The lack of skilled professionals for engineering skills in the aforementioned roles has become more evident over the last two years amid increased demand.


The job fields below that are particularly difficult to fill for employers:

  • Actuarial Management / Administration
  • External Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Treasury

Finance skills are in high demand across many parts of the country.

Therefore, recruitment for certain finance skills can become challenging when there are skills shortages.

“Although severe skills shortages remain in Actuarial Management, External Auditing and Taxation, there has been an uplifting trend over the last few years and more talent is becoming available to fill these areas,” said Pnet.

“On the other hand, treasury skills appear to be getting scarcer.”


The job fields below that are particularly difficult to fill for employers:

  • Database Design / Development / Administration
  • Software Development
  • Systems Analysis
  • Technical / Business Architecture
  • UX / GUI Design

Software development has been at the top of the list of scarce skills for many years

The demand for software developers has declined recently, which has relieved the severity of the skills shortage to some extent. That said, employers are still having a difficult time filling software developer positions.

“There has been a similar trend for systems analysis professionals, where the severity of the skills shortage has slightly eased over the last two years.”

“On the other hand, hiring database design/administration professionals as well as technical architects or UX/GUI designers has become more difficult over the last year.”


The job fields below that are particularly difficult to fill for employers:

  • Nursing
  • Professional Care Giving


Several other job roles are also facing skills shortages, but the lower labour demand for these limited skills means that the shortage is not as severe.

That said, these job roles are at high risk of being classified as severe shortages as soon as hiring activity picks up in the sectors:

  • Electrical Engineering (Engineering)
  • Consulting Engineering (Building & Construction)
  • Graphic / Print / Packaging Design (Design, Media & Arts)
  • Web Design / Multimedia / 3D Design (Design, Media & Arts)
  • Financial Analysis (Finance)
  • Financial Services Consulting (Finance)
  • Investment Management (Finance)
  • Business Analysis (Information Technology)
  • Data Analysis / Data Warehousing (Information Technology)
  • Product Management (Marketing)

Read: This is what middle class South Africans are cutting out to make it through the month

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