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25 most in-demand jobs South African employers are prioritising amid severe skill shortages

Looking at our economic crisis with unemployment rate sitting at a whopping 35% - with the likelihood of reaching 50% in the early days of lockdown - it's never been more important for young job seekers to possess an indepth knowledge of specific professional fields (redundant careers) that either limit or improve their chance of employability and job prospects. In this article, we unpack most in-demand jobs (in addition to accounting, project management, cloud computing) South African employers are prioritising amid today's severe skill shortages.

Without a keen understanding of the demands of the job market, job seekers are essentially shooting in the dark when it comes to identifying the most profitable jobs and, more importantly, in identifying the opportunities best suited to them. This is according to CEO of the Skills Development Corporation (SDC), Daniel Gibhard, who always stresses, as highlighted in this article, importance of ongoing training for job seekers.

Below, he shares 25 most in-demand jobs in South Africa today, as grouped according to most in-demand industries (sectors) and weighted by how “future-proof” the training institution believes them to be. 

The industries in highest demand are:

·        Technology

·        Engineering and Manufacturing

·        Sales and Marketing

·        Finance and Accounting

·        Procurement and Supply Chain


As the Fourth Industrial Revolution innovations continue to shape the world, the demand for skilled workers in this sector are growing in a never before imagined rate. This industry is suited to those who can quickly adapt to a frequently changing landscape, as well as those who have a desire to never stop learning – both in a formal education setting, and in their own capacity. 

The most in-demand jobs in this sector are: 

1.      Cybersecurity

2.      Cloud Computing

3.      Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

4.      Software Development

5.      Data Science

For an individual to position themselves to the needs of this industry, they should constantly seek out new ways to gain insight, experience, and knowledge in these fields. This can include both formal and informal education, with the goal of boasting a large “arsenal” of skills and competencies, to cater to the broad range of demands that the industry has. 

Skills Development Corporation lists cloud computing as among the most in-demand jobs in South Africa today.

Engineering and Manufacturing

Much like tech, engineering and manufacturing is an ever-changing landscape and, as a result, workers in this sector must be willing to shift to its new demands. Despite this, existing workers have been reported as demonstrating disinterest in pivoting to these new demands, which is imperative to upskill and learn, thereby remaining employable. 

The most in-demand jobs in this sector are: 

6.      Project Manager

7.      Quality Assurance/ Quality Control Manager

8.      Health, Safety, and Environmental Manager

9.      Product Co-ordinator

10.   Head of Engineering

Due to the level of experience required to perform the most in-demand jobs in this sector, job seekers should work to acquire as much experience as possible. This experience can be gained through standard employment opportunities, or through training programmes that offer practical work experience. 

Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing is a multi-faceted industry that requires applicants to have a critical understanding of multiple areas of business and industry sectors. As a result, those seeking employment in this area should be able to adapt and learn quickly. 

The most in-demand jobs in this sector are: 

11.   Business Development Manager/ Technical Sales

12.   Marketing Manager

13.   E-Commerce Key Accounts Manager/ Accounts Manager,

14.   Strategy Transformation Manager

15.   Brand Manager

Given that the most in-demand jobs in this industry are at a management level, job seekers should look for employment where they can gain the experience required to grow into these roles. 4IR, according to a recent Services SETA Skills Shortages Plan, has also impacted the structure of these roles, which has made it increasingly challenging for applicants to meet industry demands.

Project management has topped the list of employers’ most requested skills.

Finance and Accounting

While there is no immediate lack of job seekers in this sector, employers have highlighted a lack of specialisation among applicants. This has made it hard to identify suitable candidates for bespoke needs within a business so those seeking work in this sector, should keep their eye on the requirements of the industry, and be prepared to shift to its demands, as and when they occur. 

The most in-demand jobs in this sector are: 

16.   Commercial Finance Manager

17.   Tax Orientated Roles

18.   Finance Manager

19.   Head of Finance

20.   Accountant

While these roles appear straightforward, they often require specialisation in their respective industry, which has led to gaps in the job market. School leavers are also reported as stating that the finance industry is unappealing, according to Services SETA. Applicants should be prepared to do research into the industry and identify roles that they find attractive, rather than dismissing the entire industry. 

Procurement and Supply Chain

This industry is experiencing staffing shortages, as there is an immediate lack of candidates willing to take on the demanding roles that are currently available. Candidates looking for employment in this sector should be dynamic, self-starting, and prepared to take on tough challenges.

The most in-demand jobs in this sector are: 

21.   Logistics Manager

22.   Supply Chain Planning

23.   Demand Planner

24.   Procurement Manager

25.   Plant Supervisor

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