These jobs are in high-demand in South Africa right now – and can earn you over R100,000 a month

 ·14 Jul 2022

The information and communications technology sector (ICT) is seeing rapid growth in job opportunities, and more South Africans are needed, says Margaret Pekelaar, head of people at the DevOps practice at Altron.

Pekelaar said the ICT sector has become critical to the country’s long-term economic growth and is teeming with job opportunities, but the reality is qualified candidates are in short supply. With the right qualification, this makes an ICT qualification an attractive option for South Africans looking to make their mark, she said.

“The pool of professionals in this area is severely limited, and many big employers in tech are struggling to fill the IT skills gap.” Meanwhile, youth unemployment remains chronic at 65.5%, showing a deep skills mismatch between young people and company needs, said Pekelaar.

Other sectors where demand is rising include artificial intelligence, cyber security, programming, cryptocurrency, blockchain, augmented reality, and virtual reality, said Pekelaar.

The current most sought-after skills in the ICT/tech field, according to Altron, include:

  • Cloud and cloud migration skills – there is plenty of opportunity for cloud engineers who manage, plan, architect, and monitor cloud workloads, as well as developers, software engineers who have specialised in cloud computing, and cloud migration engineers. AWS, Google, and Microsoft certification are in demand as cloud services continue to integrate into the modern business.
  • Data engineering skills – to collect, manage and convert raw data into a format where it can be analysed or used for operations.
  • DevOps engineering skills – to work throughout the software development life cycle from coding to deployment.
  • Java skills – software engineers who can use the Java programming language to develop apps or backend services.

Pekelaar said that the technology sphere often requires logical thinking, similar to STEM-related jobs, making having a strong math background crucial.

Software development is a deceptive broad field, so companies with specific needs might find it harder to attract people with the right set of skills, said Stephen van der Heijden, VP of growth at OfferZen. The job specialist said that while full-stack developers are currently in high demand by South African companies, there’s a shortage in the local talent pool.

Similarly, the top five most in-demand languages and skills from South African companies between March and April 2022 are C#, Python, JavaScript, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Angular, all technologies that are broadly used in South Africa. “This can make it extra hard to find the right people,” said van der Heijden.

Global competition

The pandemic saw more companies shift to digital products and services and remote work, creating a bigger demand for software developers. The global shift meant companies had to diversify their talent pools from regional to global talent pools. As a result, South African software developers are increasingly seen as a great source of talent by international companies, said OfferZen.

“What makes this even harder is that many companies are looking for developer talent in the wrong places. Finding great developers is difficult, but if you’re looking in the same city and on the same channels as everyone else, it’s unlikely that you’re going to find great people that can make an impact on your team.”

What has changed since the pandemic – according to the 2022 State of the Developer Nation report – is the number of developers looking to leave South Africa to work abroad, said OfferZen. In the last three years, the number of South African developers looking to move abroad has decreased by 14%.

Bridging the gap

While most software developers are traditionally educated with a four-year university degree, van der Heijden pointed to a rise in tech bootcamps as a way to bridge the skills gaps in tech.

“Coding bootcamps offer accelerated, concentrated learning in specific tech skills, like data science, with graduates able to immediately move into junior-level roles in tech. Companies looking to hire software developers who keep this in mind, and expand their eligibility criteria to include bootcamps, are more likely to find a suitable candidate.”

Van der Heijden cautioned companies that don’t look beyond the usual channels and talent pools will simply fail at hiring developer talent. “Gone are the days of putting a job posting on your website and sending out a few LinkedIn requests to find the perfect developer. Gone too are the days when you could reject someone from your pipeline because they didn’t fit into your existing culture of private school friends and elite university graduates.”

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