South Africa’s Most In-Demand Jobs

Source – Canva images

“As the unemployment rate continues to climb closer to 50% in South Africa, we have a responsibility to help enable our youth and workforce with the insight and understanding of what jobs are in the highest demand.” That is what the CEO of the Skills Development Corporation, Daniel Gibhard, advises when asked what his thoughts are around the current job crisis our country faces.

“Without a keen understanding of the demands of the job market, job seekers are essentially shooting in the dark when it comes to identifying the most profitable jobs and, more importantly, in identifying the opportunities best suited to them,” says Gibhard.

So, just what are these opportunities? We have taken a deep dive into the current job market to identify the 25 most in-demand jobs in South Africa today. We have grouped these jobs by the most in-demand industries and weighted them by how “future-proof” we believe them to be.

The industries in highest demand are:

  • Technology,
  • Engineering and Manufacturing,
  • Sales and Marketing,
  • Finance and Accounting, &
  • Procurement and Supply Chain.

Technology 

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s (4IR) innovations continue to shape the world, the demand for skilled workers in this sector continues to grow. This industry is suited to those who can quickly adapt to a frequently changing landscape, as well as those who have a desire to never stop learning – both in a formal education setting, and in their own capacity.

The most in-demand jobs in this sector are: 

  1. Cybersecurity,
  2. Cloud Computing,
  3. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning,
  4. Software Development, &
  5. Data Science.

For an individual to position themselves to the needs of this industry, they should constantly seek out new ways to gain insight, experience, and knowledge in these fields. This can include both formal and informal education, with the goal of boasting a large “arsenal” of skills and competencies, to cater to the broad range of demands that the industry has.

Engineering and Manufacturing

Much like the Technology Industry, Engineering and Manufacturing is an ever-changing landscape and, as a result, workers in this sector must be willing to shift to its new demands. Despite this, existing workers have been reported as demonstrating disinterest in pivoting to these new demands, which is imperative to upskill and learn, thereby remaining employable.

The most in-demand jobs in this sector are: 

  1. Project Manager,
  2. Quality Assurance/ Quality Control Manager,
  3. Health, Safety, and Environmental Manager,
  4. Product Co-ordinator, &
  5. Head of Engineering.

Due to the level of experience required to perform the most in-demand jobs in this sector, job seekers should work to acquire as much experience as possible. This experience can be gained through standard employment opportunities, or through training programmes that offer practical work experience.

Sales and Marketing

Sales and Marketing is a multi-faceted industry that requires applicants to have a critical understanding of multiple areas of business and industry sectors. As a result, those seeking employment in this area should be able to adapt and learn quickly.

The most in-demand jobs in this sector are: 

  1. Business Development Manager/ Technical Sales,
  2. Marketing Manager,
  3. E-Commerce Key Accounts Manager/ Accounts Manager,
  4. Strategy Transformation Manager, &
  5. Brand Manager.

Given that the most in-demand jobs in this industry are at a management level, job seekers should look for employment where they can gain the experience required to grow into these roles. 4IR, according to a recent Services SETA Skills Shortages Plan, has also impacted the structure of these roles, which has made it increasingly challenging for applicants to meet industry demands.

Finance and Accounting

While there is no immediate lack of job seekers in this sector, employers have highlighted a lack of specialisation among applicants. This has made it hard to identify suitable candidates for bespoke needs within a business so those seeking work in this sector, should keep their eye on the requirements of the industry, and be prepared to shift to its demands, as and when they occur.

The most in-demand jobs in this sector are: 

  1. Commercial Finance Manager,
  2. Tax Orientated Roles,
  3. Finance Manager,
  4. Head of Finance,
  5. Accountant,

While these roles appear straightforward, they often require specialisation in their respective industry, which has led to gaps in the job market. School leavers are also reported as stating that the finance industry is unappealing, according to Services SETA. Applicants should be prepared to do research into the industry and identify roles that they find attractive, rather than dismissing the entire industry.

Procurement and Supply Chain

This industry is experiencing staffing shortages, as there is an immediate lack of candidates willing to take on the demanding roles that are currently available. Candidates looking for employment in this sector should be dynamic, self-starting, and prepared to take on tough challenges.

The most in-demand jobs in this sector are: 

  1. Logistics Manager,
  2. Supply Chain Planning,
  3. Demand Planner,
  4. Procurement Manager,
  5. Plant Supervisor.

While this industry is one of the most demanding industries mentioned, it’s important to note that jobs in this sector receive the fairest remuneration for both work output and levels of qualification, according to Services SETA. This stands in contrast to many of the aforementioned jobs, where remuneration is reported as below what is believed as fair, which should entice job seekers who are looking to build a profitable and sustainable career.

Conclusion

“Workers must understand just how important it is to have a desire to learn and self-upskill oneself, to ensure that they are equipped to meet the ever-changing trends of their respective industry,” says Gibhard.

There are three (very clear) contributors to the skills gaps in the industries mentioned.

The first is a lack of education among job seekers. Employers are looking for professionals that bring a myriad of skills to the table, without the need for large investments into upskilling or education.

The second contributing factor is a discrepancy between the level of skill/ experience that job seekers possess and fair remuneration. From our research, we found that most of the positions mentioned do not pay as highly as applicants (who possess the correct level of skill) would ideally like to earn.

“A third factor exists and is not as widely addressed. A lack of opportunities for young employees to gain the experience required to take on more senior roles, like managerial positions. Businesses should take it upon themselves to provide opportunity to younger employees to grow, wherever possible so that we can shape the workplace of tomorrow,” concludes Gibhard.

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