All the Scarce Skills Critically Needed in South Africa

With the number of school-leavers with poor skills on the increase due to technological advancement, some courses offered in the universities and colleges are no longer viable in the present economic system. Skills development means more and better opportunities for an individual because skills are vital to the growth of the economy, business expansion, and job creation. Some skill sets, which are presently scarce, are vital to the proper functioning of companies. Unfortunately, only a few possess these skills, making the demand to be high in the country.

These scarce or critical skills, which are mostly related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), are good career choices in these fields and are less likely to be outsourced or replaced by automation. This makes them great opportunities for people searching for a lifelong career. In recent times, there has been a high rate of unemployment in South Africa and among many reasons that account for the unemployment level is lack of skills among prospective workers. As scarcity of professionals in some fields (especially healthcare, information technology, and business management) has been on the rise, the country has continued to battle with a high unemployment rate, which reached a bewildering level in the second quarter of the year.

How High is The Rate of Unemployment in South Africa?

South Africa has one of the biggest economies on the African continent, however, the country’s unemployment rate emerged as the highest on a list of 82 countries in the world being monitored by Bloomberg in late August 2021. It was reported that in the second quarter of the year that the unemployment rate increased from 32.6 percent to 34.4 percent. Though South Africa’s unemployment rate surged to the highest in August, the data from some of the countries monitored by Bloomberg is outdated.

Rating by the expanded definition of unemployment, which includes people who were available for work but not searching for a job, the country’s rate of unemployment rose from 43.2 percent (in the first quarter) to 44.4 percent in August 2021. It was revealed that about 7.8 million South Africans were jobless in the second quarter. As a result, the unemployment rate hit a record level of 34.4 percent, emerging as one of the highest across the globe. According to the report by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), black women are mostly affected as they have an unemployment rate of 41 percent.

Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 recorded the highest rate of joblessness —64.4 percent. Also, based on the report from the agency, people between the ages of 25 and 34 recorded an unemployment rate of 42.9 per cent. Due to the efforts of the government to curb the effect of Covid-19 in the face of the third wave of the pandemic, the unemployment data is expected to deteriorate in the third quarter of the year. The surge in the rate of unemployment in the country was partly caused by the eruption of a deadly riot in the two economic hubs of the nation ― KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng (though StatsSA data do not cover the effect of the unrest).

The riot, which took place in July following the incarceration of the former president, Jacob Zuma, mostly affected the two provinces. It saw thousands of businesses looted and closed down with hundreds of lives lost in the process. Based on reports, the unrest placed not less than 150,000 jobs at risk and then cost the nation up to R50 billion ($3.3 billion) in lost output. The rising rate of joblessness in the country has also been contributed by the education system that doesn’t provide adequate skills. This has continued to undermine the ability of South African companies to hire school-leavers.

The key figures of South Africa’s unemployment data are as follows:

  • The manufacturing industry lost 83,000 jobs
  • Community; social services lost 166,000 jobs
  • The finance industry lost 278,000 jobs
  • Agriculture added 69,000 jobs
  • The construction industry added 143,000 jobs

List of Scarce Skills Needed By Employers in South Africa

Scarce skills
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Over the years, some skills have become critically needed by employers in South Africa as there has been a shortage in the number of qualified persons available for certain jobs. Skill scarcity further arises when new vocation surfaces and only a limited number of professionals possess the relevant skills required in the field. Hence, it’s essential for one to know the best selling skills before heading to the university to obtain a qualification and we have compiled a comprehensive list of them.

  • Health Professionals and Related Clinical Sciences
  • Engineering Professionals
  • Information Technology and Communication
  • Natural and Social Sciences Professionals
  • Health and Social Services Managers
  • Architects, Town Planners, and Surveyors
  • Production Managers and Directors
  • Nursing and Midwifery Professionals
  • Teaching and Educational Professionals
  • Therapy Professionals
  • Business, Management, and Administrative Professionals
  • Quality and Regulatory Professionals
  • Media Professionals
  • Welfare Professionals
  • Sports and Fitness Occupation
  • Artistic, Literary and Media Occupation
  • Design Occupations
  • Sales, Marketing and Related Associate Professionals

The Educational Qualifications Needed For The Scarce Skills

Undoubtedly, the aforementioned skills are key to the proper functioning of the economy. They have been in low supply due to a lack of qualifications or experience. Hence, here are the educational qualifications essential for the skills acquisition and equally, other job titles much needed by employers in these fields.

1. Health Professionals / Health Associate Professionals and Related Clinical Sciences

  • Medical practitioners
  • Industrial Pharmacists
  • Dietician
  • Radiation therapist
  • Radiographers
  • Audiologists
  • Gastro-intestinal technologists/physiologists
  • Perfusionists
  • Vascular technologists/physiologists
  • Respiratory physiologists
  • Prosthetists
  • Orthotists
  • PHECC registered Paramedics
  • PHECC registered Advanced Paramedics Practitioners

Educational Qualifications:

A Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences, a medical degree or a degree in Radiology, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Pathology, Audiology, Pharmacy, Physiology, Prosthetics and Orthotics, or a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.

2. Information and Communications Technology

  • IT business analysts, architects, and systems designers
  • IT specialist managers
  • IT project and programme managers
  • Web design and development professionals
  • Programmers and software development professionals
  • All other ICT professionals not classified

Educational Qualifications:

A Bachelor of Science degree or a National Diploma in Information and Communications Technology or Information Technology Management. One can also acquire the skills by earning a Bachelor’s degree or National Diploma in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Software Engineering, Electronic Telecommunications, or Mechatronic Engineering.

It’s worth mentioning that the Institute of Chartered IT Professionals (ICTP) is the only body that confers professional status in the Information and Communications Technology sector in South Africa. The professional body is a well-known non-profit organisation (NPO), as well as a public benefit organisation (PBO). It is a prestigious regulatory and professional body for the Information Technology sector. It is recognized by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) according to the NQF Act of the year 2008.

The Institute of Chartered IT Professionals awards the Chartered IT Profesional status, CITP(SA) as well as the IT Certified Professional status, ITCP(SA).

3. Health and Social Services Managers and Directors

  • Senior health services and public health managers and directors

Educational Qualifications:

A Bachelor’s degree in Health Management or Public Health. To work as a social and community service manager, you will need to achieve a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work or any related public policy and social services field.

4. Architects, Town Planners, and Surveyors

  • Architectural Technologists
  • Architects
  • Quantity Surveyors
  • Construction project managers

Educational Qualifications:

A Bachelor of Architecture degree (B. Arch) or a National Diploma in Architecture Engineering. Also, a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban Studies and Planning, a Bachelor’s degree in Land Surveying, or a National Diploma in Land Surveying.

5. Natural and Social Sciences Professionals

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  • Medical Laboratory scientists
  • Microbiologists
  • Biotechnologists
  • Chemical scientists in analytical development, product development, clinical co-vigilance, and manufacturing – medical devices, food and beverages.
  • Biochemists in product development, clinical co-vigilance, analytical development, manufacturing – medical devices, food and beverages.
  • Physical scientists in clinical co-vigilance, analytical development, product management, and manufacturing – medical devices, food and beverages.

Educational Qualifications:

A Medical Laboratory degree, Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Microbiology, Chemistry, and Physics.

6. Production Managers and Directors

  • Site Managers

Educational Qualifications:

To work as a production manager or director, you need a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in Production Management or a Bachelor’s degree in Operations Management. One can also acquire the skills by earning a degree in a related industry such as Business Management, Supply Chain Management, or Industrial Engineering.

7. Nursing and Midwifery Professionals

  • Registered Nurses
  • Registered Midwives

Educational Qualifications:

A four-year Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BCur – Bachelor of Nursing Sciences, Education and Administration) or a three-year Diploma in Nursing. Also, you can acquire the skills by achieving a degree in Nursing and Midwifery or an Advanced Diploma certificate in Midwifery.

Note: You must be registered with the South African Nursing Council (SANC) after graduation in order to work as a registered nurse or a registered midwife in the country.

8. Teaching and Educational Professionals

  • Academics who hold a teaching qualification.

Educational Qualification(s):

The minimum level of entry as a professional teacher is a Bachelor of Science degree in Education (B.Sc.Ed).

9. Therapy Professionals

  • Orthoptists

Educational Qualification(s):

A degree in Orthoptics from an accredited university.

10. Engineering Professionals

  • Structural Engineers and Site Engineers
  • Electrical Engineers
  • Mechanical Engineers
  • Civil Engineers
  • Electronics Engineers with specialisation in one of the following:

– Power generation, transmission and distribution

– Chip design, application engineering, and/or test engineering

– Process automation engineering

  • Design and Development Engineers with specialisation in one of the following:

– Process automation engineering

– Power generation, transmission, and distribution

– Chip design, application engineering, and/or test engineering

– Quality control or validation and regulation engineering (high tech industry; food and beverages)

  • Production and Process Engineers with specialisation in one of the following:

– Process automation engineering

– Chemical process engineering

– Quality control or validation and regulation engineering

– Power generation, transmission, and distribution

Educational Qualifications:

A Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering (BSC.Eng) or a Bachelor of Engineering degree (B.Eng) or a National Diploma in Engineering. After acquiring the aforementioned academic qualification(s) and also having a minimum of three years of working experience, you will then register with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) as a Professional Engineer (Pr Eng), or Professional Engineering Technologist (Pr Tech Eng), or Professional Engineering Technician (Pr Eng Techni).

11. Business, Management, and Administrative Professionals

  • Actuaries, Economists, and Statisticians specialising in big data analytics and possess skills in data mining, advanced maths, information technology, and modelling.
  • Management consultants and business analysts specialising in big data analytics with skills in information technology, modelling, advanced maths, and data mining.
  • Tax consultant specialising in non-EEA tax consultancy.
  • Taxation experts specialising in tax, compliance regulation, solvency or financial management.
  • Chartered and certified accountants.
  • Business and financial project management professionals specialising in finance & investment analytics, credit, fraud analytics, and risk analytics.

Educational Qualifications:

A Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Business Management, Statistics, Economics, or a degree in Actuarial Science. You can as well acquire some of the aforementioned skills by achieving an Advanced Diploma in Business Management, Actuarial Science, or Business Administration.

Additionally, one needs a Bachelor of Accounting Sciences degree in Financial Accounting or a Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting Sciences or Applied Accounting Sciences. For chartered accountants – a chartered accounting certificate which is given after completion of a leadership programme and two final professional examinations administered by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) will be required.

12. Quality and Regulatory Professionals

  • Quality control and planning engineers
  • Quality assurance and regulatory professionals
  • Environmental health professionals

Educational Qualifications:

A Bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree in Quality Control and Safety. Also, a Bachelor’s degree in Quality Assurance, Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Quality Engineering and Management, or an Advanced PG Diploma in Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance, or a Bachelor of Environmental Health Science (B.EHS) degree, or a Diploma in Environmental Health Science is required.

13. Welfare Professionals

  • Social Workers

Educational Qualifications:

Associates in Social Work degree, Bachelor of Social Work degree, Master of Social Work degree, or a PhD in Social Work.

14. Sales, Marketing and Related Associate Professionals

  • Business sales executives specialising in international sales roles or ITB2B sales roles.
  • International marketing experts with required domain knowledge specialising in product strategy development and management.

Educational Qualifications:

A Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, a Bachelor’s degree in Business, Data Science, Marketing, and Statistics, or a Diploma in Marketing Management, Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing and Sales Management, or a Master’s degree in Marketing Research and Analysis.

15. Media Professionals

  • Art Director in 2D or 3D animation, with at least one year of experience in the role.

Educational Qualifications:

A Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies and Mass Media, a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Communication, or a National Diploma in Media Studies.

16. Sports and Fitness Occupations

  • High-performance coaches

Educational Qualification(s):

A sport and fitness coach needs to be certified by a state agency and equally obtain a coaching certification by completing a CPR certification, passing a coaching exam and participating in a clinic or camp.

17. Artistic, Literary and Media Occupations

Animation background and design artists in 2D or 3D animation with at least one year of experience in the role.

Educational Qualifications:

A Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Media or a Bachelor of Media Arts degree.

18. Design Occupations

  • Prop Designers in 2D or 3D animation, with at least one year of experience in the role.
  • Location Designers in 2D or 3D animation, with at least one year of experience in the role.
  • Animation Layout Artists in 2D or 3D animation, with at least one year of experience in the role.
  • Character Designers in 2D or 3D animation, with at least one year of experience in the role.

Educational Qualification(s):

A Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design or a related field.

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