Recruitment activity has tanked during lockdown – but these job skills are still in high demand

Jobs portal CareerJunction has published it latest index, tracking recruitment and job search activity over the last month.

This edition of the index is notable in that it covers the weeks before and after South Africa’s lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

CareerJunction said that hiring activity remained relatively strong throughout the first three weeks during March. However, recruitment activity declined 28% during week four, when a national lockdown was implemented.

Overall, the index reached 95 index points in March 2020, indicating more people searching for jobs than jobs available. Job search activity declined by 14% during March while hiring activity decreased by 11%.

The nationwide lockdown which came into effect on 27 March was put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in South Africa, particularly in the most vulnerable communities.

However, the lockdown has also come at a great cost – shutting down many industries and businesses that are deemed ‘non-essential’, which adds financial pressure to business owners, employees and their families.

Top among the consequences are job losses, where the South African Reserve bank has warned that 370,000 people could lose their jobs. Economists have warned of much higher numbers, particularly since lockdown has been extended.

Here, they warn that the number of job losses could be between 1 million and 1.6 million people.

Ahead of the lockdown, and during its first week, CareerJunction tracked the top skills that companies were looking for – and presumably will still be looking for when the country gets back to work.

These include software developers, middle managers and sales consultants.

These skills have been in demand in South Africa for some time – particularly software developers. However, CareerJunction noted that demand has dropped even for some of these skills since the lockdown has been implemented.

Hiring activity for middle management, in particular, decreased slightly during March 2020. Demand for middle management roles decreased by about 53% with the implementation of the national lockdown.

Sales roles, meanwhile, remain high in demand in the job market. Hiring activity for sales consultants experienced a temporary slowdown during the fourth week of March when the national lockdown was implemented, CareerJunction noted, but overall, recruitment activity for sales consultants remained stable during March.

Bucking the trend is software development – which remains the most in demand skill set. Despite the national lockdown, demand for software developers continued to grow throughout March 2020. As a result, job advertising for software developer roles increased by 27% from February to March 2020.

Industry demand

According to CareerJunction, the IT, business & management and finance sectors are undoubtedly the most sought-after sectors, followed by the sales, admin, office & support and architecture & engineering sectors, among others listed.

“When looking at active job seekers across various sectors, areas of high supply correlate closely to areas of high demand, however supply outstrips demand in some areas, leading to a competitive environment for job seekers,” it said.

While the lockdown has put a halt to most hiring activity for the time-being, the group tracked an uplift in hiring activity for professionals in the building & construction, architecture & engineering, sales and ICT sectors before it came into effect.

In fact, job advertising in these sectors peaked since the beginning of the year.

Fluctuating demand was evident for professionals in the cleaning, maintenance & repair, marketing and medical & health sectors.

Of note, CareerJunction said that hiring activity is expected to pick up within essential supplies sectors such as medical & health due to the lockdown.

On the other side of the spectrum, hiring activity has been declining since the beginning of the year for the manufacturing, office, admin & support and business & management sectors. Year-on-year job advertising is significantly lower here, the group said.


Read: 9 things every South African should know about government’s financial relief scheme and their job

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Recruitment activity has tanked during lockdown – but these job skills are still in high demand