There’s a critical shortage of these skills in South Africa going into 2023

 ·2 Jan 2023

South Africa is experiencing a critical skills shortage across almost all sectors, according to jobs portal CareerJunction, with a specific need for skills in the IT and finance sector.

According to the group’s employment review for 2022, recruiters and HR specialists in South Africa and the world are facing difficulties filling vacancies in skilled positions, which leads to staff shortages, and ultimately impacts business growth and affects a country’s GDP.

“Currently, some European countries like Germany are experiencing severe staff shortages resulting in strained public transport due to a shortage in drivers; patients being unable to be admitted to hospital due to shortages of medical staff, and restaurants having to close early or close their doors entirely due to staff shortages,” the group said.

Although the South African recruitment landscape is vastly different from that of Europe, skills shortages in the local economy are amplified by the ‘brain drain’ phenomenon, which has created a major bottleneck for South African businesses.

In South Africa, there are two significant contributors to the local scarcity of certain skills:

  • Expensive tertiary education resulting in a smaller proportion of the population being able to receive tertiary education.
  • Low wages resulting in highly skilled workers leaving South African employers for better-paid jobs and opportunities overseas.

According to CareerJunction, the job sectors in South Africa hit hardest by skills shortages are the information technology and finance sectors, but the shortages are being felt almost across the board, including in  Medical & Health; Marketing; Design, Media & Arts; Business & Management; and Engineering.

Looking at the IT sector, in particular, businesses and recruiters are particularly struggling to source skilled talent in:

  • Software Development;
  • Technical / Business Architecture;
  • Database Design / Development / Administration;
  • Systems Analysis;
  • Data Analysis / Data Warehousing; and
  • Business Analysis.

In the Finance sector, there is a skills shortage of professionals in:

  • External Auditing;
  • Taxation;
  • Actuarial Management / Administration;
  • Financial Analysis; and
  • Cost & Management Accounting.

Within the Medical & Health sector, there is currently a severe shortage of skills for nursing and professional caregiving staff, the group said, while looking at the Marketing sector, there is a shortage of Product Management professionals.

Meanwhile, skills shortages in Design, Media & Arts sector have been evident for Web Design / Multimedia / 3D Design as well as Graphic / Print / Packaging Design.

“Business Development roles within the Business & Management sector as well Civil / StructuralEngineer roles (within the Engineering sector) are scarce and difficult roles to fill,” the group said.

Many of the positions that have been identified by CareerJunction were added to the 2022 Critical Skills list published by the Department of Home Affairs in August 2022.

The list determines skills as well as qualifications that are deemed to be critical in South Africa, for either an application for a critical skills visa or an application for a permanent residence permit. The objective is to attract foreign skilled professionals and encourage them to migrate to South Africa to support local businesses and industries.

Among many others, the following roles are listed on the latest critical skills list:

  • Software Developers (IT)
  • Developer Programmers (IT)
  • Data Scientists (IT)
  • ICT Systems Analysts (IT)
  • Market Research Analysts (Marketing / IT)
  • Actuaries (Finance)
  • Investment Analysts (Finance)
  • Tax Professionals (Finance)
  • External Auditors (Finance)
  • Registered Nurses (Medical & Health)
  • Multimedia Specialists (Design, Media & Arts)
  • Multimedia Designers (Design, Media & Arts)
  • Business Development Officers (Business & Management)
  • Civil Engineers (Engineering)

Good news for these job skills

“Recruitment difficulty as a result of scarcity of skills can be determined by consistently low application rates for certain job roles as well as recruiters reposting the same vacancy advert multiple times,” CareerJunction said.

Looking at recruitment difficulty for scarce skills over time, CareerJunction’s data shows improvements in certain areas.

When comparing 2022 with 2021, slightly better conditions for sourcing candidates are evident for the following skills:

  • Software Development
  • Nursing / Professional Caregiving
  • Database Design / Development / Administration
  • Systems Analysis
  • Taxation
  • Actuarial Management / Administration
  • Data Analysis / Data Warehousing
  • Business Development
  • Graphic / Print / Packaging Design

However, despite improvements in recruitment difficulty, these listed skills remain ‘hard to get’.

Bad news for these job skills

When comparing 2022 with 2021, aggravated conditions are evident for recruiting job roles with the following skills:

  • Technical / Business Architecture
  • External Auditing skills
  • Financial Analysis
  • Product Management
  • Business Analysis
  • Web Design / Multimedia / 3D Design
  • Civil / Structural Engineering

Recruitment conditions for these skills have become more difficult.

Regional shortages

Looking at the different regions in South Africa, businesses in provinces with relatively high economic activity (like Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal) are more likely to experience recruitment difficulties for certain skills.

“With economic disparities across the different provinces of South Africa, it is inevitable that the constellation of labour supply and demand
also varies within the different regions,” it said.

The Western Cape seems to be more affected by critical skills shortages than other provinces, it said, with the sectors within the Western Cape experiencing the most critical recruitment difficulties being IT, Finance, Design, Media & Arts, Marketing, Medial & Health and Business & Management.

Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal seem to experience IT skills shortages in particular – meanwhile, aside from IT skills shortages, the Eastern Cape  appears to lack Medical & Health skills (Nursing /
Professional Caregiving) as well as Finance skills (Financial / Project Accounting).

The North West is the only province showing recruitment difficulties for teachers, CareerJunction said.

However, a severe shortage in software development skills is evident across most South African regions, it said.

Read: Jobs that pay the highest average salaries in South Africa

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