Specialist recruitment firm Michael Page has published its latest hiring guide, highlighting the most in-demand jobs in South Africa across every major category.

This guide is developed as a reference for hiring managers and job seekers to make informed employment decisions in South Africa, the group said.

The data is derived from our proprietary database capturing job advertisements and placements throughout 2020. It is further supplemented with insights from our consultants, validated through their interactions with employers and job applicants in the region.

“Understanding the shape of the industry you operate within and how the candidate market is responding to these changes is crucial to effectively planning your team structure and reinforcing the vision of your company,” said Paul Newman, operating director of Michael Page Africa.

“Closing any identified skills gaps and bringing in new skill sets will be fundamental to your success.”

After a sharp contraction in South Africa’s GDP in 2020 due to the fallout from Covid-19, a return to pre-2019 economic activity may require at least five years without major, far-reaching interventions, Newman said.

“High unemployment and persistent electricity shortages are likely to weigh on any market rebound effort in 2021.”

Below are the jobs that hiring in the country right now across every major sector.


Engineering and Manufacturing

Top five positions in demand:

  1. Operations managers
  2. Manufacturing managers
  3. Project managers
  4. Maintenance managers
  5. Continuous improvement managers.

Within the engineering sector, certain positions require a ‘legal appointment’ which details specific qualifications, certifications or training needed to fulfill the duties of the role, Michael Page said.

These include, but are not limited to, GCC Factories, GCC Mines and Mine Managers Certificate.

Taking this into account, there is a limited pool of talent which qualifies for these positions, making the market extremely competitive and, in some cases, also creating a disparity in salaries, the group said.

“It would be prudent for professionals within this field to pursue these qualifications.

“The benefits include opening doors to future promotions and opportunities and professionals with such qualifications can also assist other members within the organisation through training and mentoring.

Michael Page said that employers should also invest in these initiatives and offer employees the chance to explore these options.


Finance and Accounting

Top five positions in demand:

  1. Commercial finance manager/controller
  2. Tax
  3. Finance manager
  4. Head of finance
  5. Accountant

Michael Page said that one of the greatest challenges facing this sector is the downsizing of locals teams and the movement of teams overseas.

Businesses have also complained that current financial structure are not innovative enough or teams are not skilled enough to manage the changes that have come with Covid-19.

“Depending on the size of the organizations, multiple roles can be incorporated into one, to reduce large teams,” Michael Page said.

“A reorganisation of teams must be explored to ensure the right strategies are implemented.”


Human Resources

Top five positions in demand:

  1. HR manager
  2. HR officer
  3. HR director
  4. In-house talent acquisition specialist
  5. HR and payroll manager

Companies in the sector said that they face considerable budget restraints and therefore are not able to afford multiple people within a team to fulfill certain responsibilities.

With employees working from home during the lockdown period, many people are also seeking more flexible work environments/flex-hours, whereas employers want to get back to traditional working methods as soon as possible.

This lack of flexibility demonstrated by some organizations has been a deterrent for applicants many of whom end up considering other employment options.

To address these issues, Michael Page said that companies should hire people that have had the experience in multiple roles during their career.

“Instead of making two hires, businesses can save by increasing the salary of one hire who would be capable of performing dual functions.”

It said that businesses should also be able to adopt a more flexible work environment, provided the right measures are put in place to track productivity and key output.

“Examples may include an adjustment in working hours, dedicated work from home days, etc. There will be situations that do not allow for this, especially when the work that needs to be conducted is on-site, but where possible, employers must be flexible.”


Procurement and Supply Chain

Top five positions in demand:

  1. Planning manager
  2. Head of supply chain
  3. Continuous improvement manager supply chain
  4. Procurement manager
  5. Logistics manager (regional/international scope)

Due to the pandemic, many companies in this scetor said that they have had to reduce staff and tightenbudgets.  As a result most companies require the skills but do not have the headcount allowance/budget approval.

“If companies are in a position where they require a resource but either do not have the budget, are on a hiring freeze or if they have recently retrenched employees, they should consider hiring contract/temp staff,” Michael Page said.

“There are a number of highly skilled candidates in the market who would be open to contract work, and this is a solution which would save the business money whilst also maintaining work continuity.”


Sales and Marketing (Consumer and B2B)

Top five positions in demand:

  1. Technical sales manager
  2. Digital marketing manager
  3. E-commerce manager
  4. Regional key account manager
  5. Head of sales and marketing

The sector complained about a lack of talent with e-commerce skills/experience. In addition, increased recruitment in the technical/niche space has meant there is a search for talent with experience in a specific product and/or region.

“Professionals must try and upskill as much as possible working closely with in-house teams and also through certifications from digital academies,” Michael Page said.

The group said that employees should also try to also take on as many projects as possible in marketing which will allow you additional exposure.

“If possible, ask for how you can grow your role in-house to get regional experience, especially with SSA markets, to make your profile stand out to recruiters.”


Technology

Top five positions in demand:

  1. Cloud computing
  2. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning
  3. Data scientist
  4. Robotics and process automation
  5. Cybersecurity

The biggest challenge facing this sector is a lack of supply in talent with STEM skills in South Africa.

In response, Michael Page said that there is now a need to craft a different educational landscape that speaks more to the STEM skills needed in the 21st century.


Read: These 73 jobs will see faster recovery and high demand in post-Covid South Africa