The rarest skills in South Africa: Read list of critical skills in demand by companies in 2016
While some jobs have a large pool of applicants, other vacancies are very hard to fill. South African recruitment specialist, Adzuna has done some research on the most sought after skills by companies and their demand from job seekers - crowning those that push both factors the most to be the rarest skills in the country.
By this logic, if a skill is in high demand but low in supply, this makes it rarer than skills which are low in both available candidates and low in demand.
From the data generated by listing over 130,000 online jobs in South Africa, as well as searching through mountains of search requests by millions of applicants, skills needed for the following industries and vacancies have increased (see Table 1).
However, cross-referenced is the amount of job seekers available or looking for the relevant skills, making some qualifications and skills far more rare to find.
Table 1: Demand for skills by companies crossed with demand for positions by job seeker searches
Job skill or title
Demand from companies
Demand from job seekers
Average salary - Sept 2016
Average salary - May 2016
A 2,0 factor score would thus mean that in essence, twice as many vacancies exist than job seekers searching for such a position. If this does not seem rare enough already, bear in mind that the job seeker looking for work in that skill or job title may not even be qualified or suitable for the position.
The results contain a few interesting findings; the rarest skills still remain in the technology sector. Engineers and developers, together with financial skills, are clearly the hardest to find, with the most demand from firms, yet with the least available candidates.
Interestingly, recruitment is now a hot skill, with many organisations and agencies requiring recruitment specialists in their HR departments.
While not every job in demand is posted online, the trends shown by the sample data are clear and meaningful. Companies must dig deep to explore new ways of attracting programming and engineering skills, as well as some of those in the financial or accountancy field. Management skills too, represent a challenge.
Combining these two data sets gives a clearer view on which skills are hardest to find in South Africa, yet not every rare skill is necessarily highly paid. Salary, could serve as a third factor, to predict the rarest skills in South Africa.
Despite this, in some industries, such as textiles, weaving managers with many qualifications and years of experience do not necessarily earn as high an income as one might imagine, given that there are extremely few of these skills in the country.
The highest salaries for those skills in the Table 1 above were for engineers, pharmacists, project managers, developers and analysts.
What is interesting to note, which is not shown in these results, is the change in salaries from May to September, where the rarer skills have not seen as much growth as expected.
Another means of interpreting skill rarity is to see what the Department of Labour recognises as South Africa’s “critical skills”.
A list of critical skills is published annually and the list from 2014 is used by the Department of Home Affairs to determine if a foreign worker may be employed ahead of a South African.
Unfortunately this list is becoming outdated and does not take into account later lists published by the Department of Labour.
With numerous means of finding out which skills are in high demand, the technology industry continually stands out as the sector to be working in. Since finance skills are becoming harder to recruit, it will be interesting to see how businesses, and hopefully the South African government, ensure that there is access to a skilled pool of applicants and that companies are able to hire the right people with the best competencies.
Image: Jesse Green. Jesse Green is the Country Manager for Adzuna.co.za, the largest job aggregator in South Africa. His experience lies in online job classifieds and the monetisation of web platforms. Follow @adzunasa on Twitter or connect with Adzuna on Facebook.
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