The latest Critical Skills Survey report, conducted by Xpatweb, shows the most sought-after yet scant skills in South Africa, which has led businesses to recruit talent from other countries. Picture: Henk Kruger, ANA.
The latest Critical Skills Survey report, conducted by Xpatweb, shows the most sought-after yet scant skills in South Africa, which has led businesses to recruit talent from other countries. Picture: Henk Kruger, ANA.

Top 10 critical skills South African businesses want

By BR Reporter Time of article published Apr 12, 2021

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The latest Critical Skills Survey report, conducted by Xpatweb, shows the most sought-after yet scant skills in South Africa, which has led businesses to recruit talent from other countries.

Survey participants indicated the following skills as most in-demand but hardest to source locally: engineers (18 percent), ICT specialists (13 percent); foreign-language speakers (10 percent), media and marketing specialists (9 percent), artisans (8 percent), C-suite executives (7 percent), senior financial executives (6 percent), health-care specialists (5 percent), science professionals (4 percent) and accounting professionals (1 percent).

Xpatweb managing director Marisa Jacobs said the report data was mostly used by stakeholders who influenced policies on critical skills, and the import of foreign professionals.

On its website, Xpatweb describes itself as a firm that specialises in solutions in the expatriation and international mobility sector.

According to the survey, there was an increasing urgency for media and marketing specialists, which Jacobs said was probably due to digital advances, the social media marketing explosion, and the growing sophistication of the marketing profession.

The survey also noted that respondents were concerned that the exclusion of corporate general managers from the National Critical Skills List would impact their search for executives with international experience.

“We anticipated the term would be replaced with specific titles, like CEO or CFO, to avoid abuse, so far, this does not appear to be the case,” said Jacobs.

Business impact

The survey found that 77 percent of organisations reported that they struggled to source critical skills in South Africa for local and cross-border operations. Seventy-six percent asserted that an international search would help them satisfy their objectives.

“Ninety-two percent indicated that missing critical skills have an impact on stakeholders within their organisation. The gaps are typically associated with the top 10 critical skills above,” it said.

Skills transfer and succession planning

According to the report, South African employers were sometimes accused of overlooking local talent in favour of foreign professionals. However, 81 percent of respondents viewed succession planning and skills transfer as a priority for their business.

“Many organisations have exited their foreign nationals after successfully transferring their competencies and responsibilities to local employees,” reports Jacobs. Unfortunately, the demand typically outstrips the pace of transfer.

Experience and education

The survey noted that although demand was high, employers could not risk the integrity of their operations by hiring inexperienced employees. Thirty-eight percent required three to five years’ experience while 28 percent demand more than five years.

“Similarly, 49 percent seek an undergraduate degree, and 23 percent desire a postgraduate or honours degree,” it said.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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