These critical skills are in high demand in South Africa

The Department of Higher Education and Training has published its draft list of Occupations in High Demand which aims to establish the skills most in-demand across the country.

The significance of the list is that it will form the basis for the updated critical skills list by the Department of Home Affairs, which contains all the skills deemed in short supply in South Africa, said Xpatweb’s Marisa Jacobs.

Jacobs said that any person who fits the list’s criteria may qualify for a work visa, under the critical skills visa category, as per the Immigration Act.

While the last Critical Skills List by the Department of Home Affairs was published in 2014, and is currently under review, Xpatweb’s own data shows that there are a number of in-demand skills which are currently not covered.

Jacobs said that this includes:

  • Several categories of ICT specialists and engineers;
  • Foreign language speakers;
  • Chefs;
  • Winemakers;
  • Tobacco grades;
  • Tour guides;
  • Nurses;
  • Riggers;
  • Actuaries; and
  • Software engineers.

“There is a continued lack of critically skilled individuals available in South Africa and thanks to survey participants, we are able to guide the government’s critical skills list and help shape the decisions that will help local businesses reinvigorate the economy,” said Jacobs.

According to CareerJunction, the three most in-demand skills in the country at the moment are software developersmiddle/department managers and representatives or sales consultants.

Despite a decrease in hiring activity for software developers during the last four months, programming and software development skills remain the most in-demand skill set in the local labour market, the group said.

“Demand for managerial skills is showing consistent growth over the past two months. After a dip in demand in the second quarter of 2020, hiring activity increased by more than 60% since May.

“Aside from diminished recruitment activity in the current economic climate, recruitment activity for sales consultants and representatives grew by 30% since May 2020.”

High demand

Jacobs said that the skills list is important as an increasing number of skilled South Africans have expressed a desire to emigrate, meaning local companies need to recruit internationally for these critical skills.

“There is a growing concern among many South Africans that skilled people are leaving the country in droves, choosing to relocate to New Zealand, Canada, the UK, Australia and Mauritius to name a few, she said.”

Jacobs said that any discussion about emigration numbers is complicated by the fact that there is no official bureau in South Africa that collects emigration data.

“Resources from Stats SA, the United Nations International Migrant Stock database, and National statistics offices (NSOs) of foreign nations, however, suggest that upwards of 23,000 people per year are emigrating from South Africa.

“People who are emigrating are often skilled and experienced, which is why they can find work abroad. Skills are globally sourced for the economic benefit of those countries, and South Africa has to compete for scarce skills.”