Skills shortages have been an issue for South Africa for some time now and this is further compounded by the growing need for technical and digital skills
A National Scarce Skills List of the top hundred scarce skills is regularly drawn up by the Department of Higher Education and Training. Various sources of information are combined, such as government job creation plans, like the National Development Plan, the National Infrastructure Plan, Industrial Policy Action Plan, and the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) Scarce Skills Lists, which indicates shortages in specific career fields.
With the unemployment rate standing at 26.6%, it is well worth remembering which skills will give you a competitive edge and increase your chances of landing a new job or, if you are an employer, which job roles you would have difficulty finding suitable replacements for.
According to a report on skills supply and demand in South Africa; the South African labour force is made up of 15 million employed and 7.5 million unemployed people. Unemployment is also particularly high amongst youth (15 to 34 years) and this is increasing as more young people join the labour force. Additionally, the education level and skill base of the labour force is lower than that of many other productive economies. Of the employed population, 20% have a tertiary qualification, 32% have completed secondary education, and close to half of the workforce do not have a grade 12 certificate.
A critical constraint on the education and training system and the labour market is the inadequate quality of basic education. Success in the school subjects of languages, mathematics and science, forms the basis for participation and success in technical subjects in post-school education and training institutions as well as the workplace. Presently, each year around 140 000 grade 12 students complete the matriculation examination with a bachelor’s pass, and of these only around 50 000 students pass mathematics with a score higher than 50%. The pool of students who can potentially access university and science-based TVET programmes is very small in comparison to the skill demands in the country.
According to the Department of Labour, too few people study qualifications that are required to address the skills shortages in the country.