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Manpower South Africa: Annual Talent Shortage Survey Looks at Why South African Employers Are Having Trouble Filling Jobs Featured

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Manpower South Africa: Annual Talent Shortage Survey Looks at Why South African Employers Are Having Trouble Filling Jobs

ManpowerGroup’s ninth annual Talent Shortage Survey shows some interesting changes for 2014 over the 2013 results, with Skilled Trades replacing Engineers as the most difficult position for companies to fill. The survey is conducted every year out of a sample of 750 businesses in South Africa.


The 2013 results saw South Africa in third position from the bottom, with 6% of employers having difficulty filling jobs. This year, when compared to the 41 other countries surveyed, South Africa came in 4th from the bottom, with only 8% of employers reporting difficulty filling jobs. The global average for 2014 sits at 36%.


Globally, employers in Japan report the greatest talent shortages, with 81% of employers struggling to fill open positions. At the other end of the scale, employers in Ireland report the least problems with talent shortages, with only 2% of employers struggling to fill jobs.

The research shows that globally, the roles most difficult to fill are Skilled Trade Workers, Engineers and Sales Representatives – unchanged from the 2013 survey.  Employers are reporting the greatest talent shortages in Skilled Trade positions. Also for the third year in a row, Engineers ranked second on the list. In third place, moving up on position, are Technicians, while Sales Representatives slip one place to fourth. The Sales Manager category is new to the top 10 this year, placing seventh (up from 12th in 2013), while the Labourer category drops out of the top 10 after slipping down the rankings for the past three years. Accounting and Finance and Management/Executive positions are also increasingly hard to fill.


The most difficult positions to fill in South Africa for 2014 are as follows:





Skilled trades




Management / Executive (Management/Corporate)


Secretaries, Personal Assistants, Receptionists, Administrative assistants & Office support staff



Accounting and Finance staff

Legal staff (solicitors, lawyers, legal secretaries)



Skilled Trades



Accounting & Finance Staff


Production Operators/Machine Operators

Restaurants & Hotel staff


Restaurants & Hotel staff



Sales Representatives

Customer Service Representatives & Customer Support


Buying & Procurement staff

IT Staff


But, why are South African employers struggling to fill jobs, you ask? “With unemployment in the country hovering around the 25% mark, it is surprising that we are still suffering job shortages. The lack of technical competencies paired with the rampant skills shortages remains a problem for local employers, across various industries. The skills shortage is widely regarded as a key obstacle to economic growth, job creation and business expansion,” explains Lyndy van den Barselaar, Managing Director of Manpower South Africa.


When asked why they are having difficulties filling jobs, 37% of local employers said there was a lack of available applicants or no applicants at all for the positions, while 35% quoted technical competencies as a challenge. Meanwhile, 25% said that lack of experience was a challenge.


Further, 16% of employers sited the lack of industry-specific qualifications or certifications in terms of professionals was a challenge; while 15% said the same was a challenge in terms of skilled trades. 14% of employers sited workplace competencies (soft skills) as an issue, while 10% said applicants were looking for more pay than what was offered.


When asked what kind of impact the talent shortage was having on their availability to meet client needs, 32% of South African employers said a high impact, 50% said a medium impact, 10% said a low impact and 8% said no impact at all.


When asked how talent shortages and skills gaps were most likely to impact their organisations, 82% of employers said it would reduce their competitiveness and productivity, while 75% said it would reduce their availability to serve clients. Meanwhile, 53% said it would lower their employee engagement and morale and 54% said it would reduce their innovation and creativity. 39% of employers said the skills gap was most likely to increase employee turnover, and 37% sited higher compensation costs as an impact.


“The skills gap is seen to have an effect across industries and organisations in the country. Employers are having to find innovative ways to face the challenge and overcome the negative impacts on their businesses,” explains van den Barselaar. 


When asked what strategies they were pursuing to overcome the difficulties created by the skills shortage, 66% of South African employers said they would be adopting non-traditional people/recruitment practices, while 52% said they would be exploring new, untapped talent sources.


Meanwhile, 34% said they would be providing additional training and development to existing staff, while a further 34% said they were appointing people who may not have the necessary skills currently but possess the potential to learn and grow. Similarly, 31% of employers said they were redefining qualifying criteria to include individuals who lack some required skill or formal qualifications, but have the potential to acquire them.


“In order to tackle the skills shortage in South Africa, it is imperative that provincial government continues to support skills training, as job creation will not be nearly as effective without skills development. Policies such as the Skills Development Levy and the Skills Development Act support job creation and economic growth, which should reflect positively on the job market and the amount of skilled workers in future,” explains van den Barselaar.


“It is also important for organisations and companies in the country to contribute to building skills, through increased training and development of both existing and potential employees,” she concludes.

Last modified on Thursday, 19 June 2014 11:36


Lyndy van den Barselaar - Giving list of talent shortages in 2014 Manpower South Africa

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