The rarest skills in South Africa: Read list of critical skills in demand by companies in 2016

NOVEMBER 24, 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

"Rareness" factor

 Average salary - Sept 2016

 Average salary - May 2016

java developer

2181

19

114,8

 R528 135

 R525 369

financial accountant

996

11

90,5

 R439 920

 R422 844

developer

15601

224

69,6

 R470 872

 R486 281

php developer

1458

23

63,4

 R395 950

 R401 590

web developer

1366

32

42,7

 R407 987

 R442 016

assistant manager

948

25

37,9

 R218 449

 R197 904

software developer

1219

33

36,9

 R496 747

 R507 944

recruiter

2450

108

22,7

 R513 326

 R475 724

net developer

939

50

18,8

 R467 460

 R457 940

consultant

5644

397

14,2

 R277 493

 R275 716

technologist

929

70

13,3

 R486 118

 R473 417

executive

3058

262

11,7

 R315 045

 R307 892

analyst

4054

361

11,2

 R531 762

 R529 491

accountant

3934

376

10,5

 R418 910

 R415 556

pharmacist

1284

192

6,7

 R506 418

 R568 405

designer

1861

280

6,6

 R363 890

 R393 921

coordinator

1044

267

3,9

 R246 187

 R211 475

planner

872

227

3,8

 R449 795

 R417 609

project manager

1370

359

3,8

 R558 330

 R551 704

engineer

8238

2266

3,6

 R596 996

 R565 653

business analyst

1304

361

3,6

 R569 417

 R548 304

manager

22631

6479

3,5

 R498 565

 R484 938

quantity surveyor

901

269

3,3

 R532 380

 R482 622

civil engineer

869

269

3,2

 R592 809

 R595 538

bookkeeper

1336

490

2,7

 R181 150

 R205 298

controller

2331

871

2,7

 R345 115

 R364 566

secretary

1008

464

2,2

 R168 895

 R187 767

officer

4026

1894

2,1

 R286 784

 R281 632

technician

2485

1205

2,1

 R227 406

 R269 947

surveyor

1035

510

2,0

 R561 940

 R477 961

foreman

891

549

1,6

 R453 944

 R410 078

assistant

5372

3328

1,6

 R151 827

 R168 280

clerk

3334

2078

1,6

 R141 018

 R133 952

supervisor

1514

1102

1,4

 R253 359

 R260 419

salesperson

1894

1400

1,4

 R267 329

 R233 467

operator

2311

2500

0,9

 R392 775

 R408 920

sales manager

1145

1400

0,8

 R436 646

 R414 721

chef

1409

1800

0,8

 R157 660

 R178 609

nurse

1768

2404

0,7

 R283 224

 R317 664

mechanic

1330

1827

0,7

 R464 945

 R439 354

registered nurse

936

3497

0,3

 R276 671

 R285 932

administrator

4550

18000

0,3

 R184 159

 R205 468

receptionist

1705

6962

0,2

 R97 464

 R102 780

driver

1814

14685

0,1

 R111 919

 R100 373

 

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.