South African companies are looking overseas for critical skills they can’t find here

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Expat and international mobility group Xpatweb has published the results of its critical skills survey, which lists the types of skills and sectors which companies have identified as being the most lacking in South Africa.

According to Xpatweb’s survey most companies (75%) admit that they actively seek international talent to fill their skills needs, even despite viewing the visa processes needed as prohibitive.

South Africa has for a number of years been suffering from a major skills shortage, particularly in technical fields such as ICT and engineering.

Among the survey results Xpatweb identified occupations in critical areas where companies struggle to find the necessary skills, locally.

These ‘most needed’ skills were identified in these areas:

  • Engineers
  • ICT specialists
  • Financial specialists and accountants
  • Specialised technical skills
  • Sales managers and
  • Senior management

Other occupations where skills were needed, include:

  • Medical specialists
  • Artisans
  • Media and production
  • Mining
  • General managers
  • Marketing managers
  • Machine operators
  • Actuaries
  • Researchers
  • Project managers and
  • Business professionals

High demand, high price

With such a high demand, it comes as no surprise that there are many job openings for people with the requisite skills offering large salaries.

The latest data from jobs portal CareerJunction lists IT professionals as being in the most demand so far in 2018 – a trend which has persisted for a number of years. This is followed by financial skills and business management skills.

Research conducted by another careers portal, Adzuna, found that IT, finance, and engineering related skills – particularly those around programming languages and software development – are the rarest skills in the country, and draw premium salaries.

While these fields are always in high demand, there is little in the way of ‘supply’ – ie skilled and qualified job seekers.

Critical skills needed in South Africa

Like many countries, South Africa opens up its visa processes to people who meet the requirements to fill roles or jobs that fall under its critical skills list.

The list reflects the data that has been published by jobs portals and Xpatweb, with the South African government willing to open up its borders – or at least make the immigration process easier – for technically-skilled foreigners who can meet job requirements that cannot be locally sources.

The list covers 12 broad educational fields:

  • Agriculture, Agricultural Operations and Related Sciences
  • Architecture and the Built Environment
  • Business, Economics and Management Studies
  • Information Communication & Technology
  • Engineering
  • Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences
  • Life and Earth Sciences
  • Professionals and Associate Professionals
  • Trades
  • Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
  • Academics and Researchers
  • Post-Graduates

Along with the broader fields above, there are also over 220 specific careers or qualifications that fall into one or more of those fields.

The greatest demand is found in the ICT, Engineering and Life Sciences sectors, with specific jobs among general professionals and managers as well as academics and researchers also getting wide coverage.

The full list was published by the South African department of home affairs in 2014, and has remained relevant since.

This article was first published on businesstech.co.za