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The Manpower Group’s 2012 Talent Shortage Survey has named engineers, drivers and skilled tradespeople at the top of the list of the hardest skills to find in SA. Teachers, technicians and legal staff are also in the top 10.
The survey, the seventh in the annual series, explores the extent to which employers in leading economies are having difficulty filling talent; what jobs are most difficult to fill and why; concern over stakeholder impact; and the strategies employers are pursuing to overcome the shortage.
“In this year’s research, over a third of the employers we surveyed globally told us they were unable to find the talent their organisations need,” says Lyndy Borland, the acting managing director for Manpower Group South Africa.
“That so many employers continue to identify talent shortages as a barrier to their business goals defies prevailing logic, especially when viewed against the high levels of unemployment in many economies – particularly among young adults.
“However, we asked employers to identify why they were experiencing problems filling positions. Overwhelmingly, a lack of candidates with the right technical expertise and employability skills continues to vex employers.”
The survey reflects these careers as having the highest levels of skills shortages: engineers, drivers, skilled trades, labourers, management, teachers, legal staff, secretaries, personal assistants and office support staff, technicians, accounting and finance staff.
“People are often surprised by the results of the skills shortage survey, particularly for results such as drivers or sales representatives,” says Borland.
“However, though these seem like easily fillable positions, there is a very real shortage of finding skilled employees who can execute the tasks properly and professionally.
“There are also many more of these positions that require filling than the more skilled positions.”
SA fares well in comparison to the global results. The global average has 34 percent of employers having difficulty finding talent.
In SA this number stands at 10 percent, down from 14 percent last year and lower than pre-2010 levels, which were in the high 30s.
The global result shows the top three shortages as being in the fields of skilled trades workers, engineers and sales representatives.
At least 52 percent of SA employers named the lack of technical competencies and hard skills as the most common reason for difficulty filling jobs.
The lack of applicants was cited by 36 percent of employers while 24 percent said lack of experience was the problem.
“In SA, one of the key reasons for the lack of skills is barriers to the right education,” says Borland.
“And those who do acquire the skills are often enticed away to other countries who will offer them better perks, further exacerbating the problem.”
This is particularly true for engineers, legal staff, technicians, teachers and finance and accounting staff.
Employers are, however, finding ways to overcome these shortages.
This year’s research indicates that a growing number (33 percent) of employers are addressing their talent shortages by upskilling their staff and promoting those who demonstrate the potential to grow and develop.
Of those employers who say talent shortages are having a high impact on their businesses, 30 percent are appointing staff without the skills but show the potential to learn and grow, and 17 percent are broadening their talent search outside the region.
SA employers also say they only expect the skills shortage to have a medium impact on their business (48 percent) and 16 percent say it will have a high impact.
“Despite having lower than average figures, there is still a very noticeable talent shortage in South Africa, particularly for emerging industries such as renewable energy.
“These shortages need to be addressed now in order to prevent future talent gaps in the country,” says Boland.