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Where are South Africa's biggest employment shortages?

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Where are South Africa's biggest employment shortages?

The latest Talent Shortage Survey 2013 from Manpower Group South Africa shows some interesting changes over the 2012 results, with Engineers still proving to be the most difficult position for companies to fill. This however is the only position that has retained its position on the list. The survey is conducted every year out of a sample of 750 businesses in South Africa.

"In 2012 we saw drivers and skilled trades coming in at position 2 and 3, however this year, these spots have been taken by management positions and teachers. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the lack of candidates for the positions have been filled, just that different sectors of the economy may be experiencing better growth or decline this year," explains Lyndy Van Den Barselaar, Managing Director for Manpower Group South Africa.









Management / Executive (Management/Corporate)




Skilled Trades


Legal staff (solicitors, lawyers, legal secretaries)



Skilled Trades

Management / Executive (Management/Corporate)


Accounting & Finance Staff



Restaurants & Hotel staff

Legal staff (solicitors, lawyers, legal secretaries)



Secretaries, PAs, Administrative assistants & Office support staff


Customer Service Representatives & Customer Support



IT Staff

Accounting & Finance Staff


The top ten job shortage positions for 2013 over 2012.

"It seems almost unreal that in a country with unemployment hovering around the 25% mark that we should still suffer job shortages, however, lack of technical competencies remains a big problem for employees. This is particularly evident this year in the upper formal sectors in areas such as management, teachers and legal staff. Although sufficient training and expertise is one factor in the shortages, brain drain or insufficient job attractiveness is driving these professions to other job sectors or employment outside of South Africa causing a vacuum," explains Barselaar.


72% respondents in the survey said the impact of not filling these positions had a medium to high impact on their business, only 2% said it would have no impact. In the 2012 survey this figure stood at 64%. Of those expecting it to impact on their business, 74% stated that it would reduce their ability to serve clients as well as their competitiveness and productivity. Just over 30% agreed that it would increase employee turnover and reduce innovation and creativity, while 37% said it would create higher compensation costs.


"The survey also revealed some of the reasons employers where finding it difficult to fill positions. 58% of employers said that they could not fill positions due to a lack of hard skills or technical competencies, with 45% attributing it to a Lack of available applicants or no applicants due to factors such as skills shortages," explains Barselaar.


Furthermore, around 30% of employers also mentioned the fact that many employees didn't have industry-specific qualifications or certifications in a professional field (33%) or that they had a lack of experience (29%). A further 20% cited the reasons as lack of industry-specific qualifications or certifications in skilled trades.


Other factors also included a lack of soft skills (language, customer interaction, etc.) or motivation as well as wanting more pay than was offered. Undesirable geographic locations as well as a Lack of applicants willing to work on a 'part-time' or 'contingent' basis was also a problem for some.


"The problem is also that there is a global skills shortage problem. This means that those with the skills are often attracted away from South Africa to other countries with more lucrative job prospects where the skills are also in demand. However, the private sector is also finding its own solutions to the problem."


60% of respondents said they are adapting talent sourcing to recruit more untapped talent pools and 42% said that they are redefining their qualifying criteria to include individuals who lack some required skills or formal qualifications, but have the potential to acquire them. 33% said they are providing additional training and development to existing staff and just under 20% stated that they are hiring candidates outside of their local region or country.


"Businesses are trying different approaches too, 40% of the companies surveyed said that they are partnering with educational institutions to create curriculum aligned to their talent needs and 15% said they are utilizing non-traditional – or previously untried - recruiting practices, both internally and externally, in response to the growing challenge of workforce strategy. 9% of respondents said that they are increasing starting salaries or considering new offices or building out existing facilities in areas where the talent is."


"Without skills development job creation will not be near as effective as it should be. Government needs training programmes and job seekers need accessibility to advice and training for the real world in order to improve their employability based on current requirements in South Africa's job market," concludes Barselaar.

Last modified on Monday, 03 June 2013 11:51

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