With many young people not being able to find employment, even after obtaining a tertiary qualification, human capital solutions provider Manpower South Africa notes the importance of youth keeping up-to-date with the latest employment data.

The Manpower Talent Shortage Survey, released in May, pointed out that Engineers are still proving to be the most difficult position for companies to fill.

“Following engineers, management and executive positions, teachers, legal staff and skilled trades made up the top-five hardest positions to fill,” explains Lyndy Van Den Barselaar, MD of Manpower South Africa.

Following the top five were accounting and financial staff, restaurants and hotel staff, technicians, customer service representatives and customer support, and IT staff.

“It seems almost unreal that in a country with unemployment hovering around the 25% mark that we should still suffer job shortages, however, lack of technical competencies remains a big problem for employees.

“This is particularly evident this year in the upper formal sectors in areas such as management, teachers and legal staff. Although sufficient training and expertise is one factor in the shortages, brain drain or insufficient job attractiveness is driving these professions to other job sectors or employment outside of South Africa causing a vacuum,” explains Van den Barselaar.

The survey also revealed some of the reasons employers where finding it difficult to fill positions: 58% of employers say that they could not fill positions due to a lack of hard skills or technical competencies; with 45% attributing it to a lack of available applicants or no applicants due to factors such as skills shortages.

“It is becoming increasingly important for those pupils in Matric to take not of these factors, in order to assist them in making the best career choice for themselves and the economy. This will ensure they are able to find employment,” explains Van den Barselaar.

Furthermore, around 30% of employers also mentioned the fact that many employees didn’t have industry-specific qualifications or certifications in a professional field (33%) or that they had a lack of experience (29%). A further 20% cited the reasons as lack of industry-specific qualifications or certifications in skilled trades.

Other factors also included a lack of soft skills (language, customer interaction and so on) or motivation as well as wanting more pay than was offered. An undesirable geographic location as well as a lack of applicants willing to work on a ‘part-time’ or ‘contingent’ basis was also a problem for some.

“Education is an important factor in finding employment, which is why it is important for pupils leaving Matric to take these kinds of factors into consideration, and choose the right qualification for their future,” she says.

“The problem is also that there is a global skills shortage problem. This means that those with the skills are often attracted away from South Africa to other countries with more lucrative job prospects where the skills are also in demand. However, the private sector is also finding its own solutions to the problem.”

Van den Barselaar explains that businesses are taking different approaches, with 40% of the companies surveyed saying that they are partnering with educational institutions to create curriculum aligned to their talent needs and 15% say they are utilising non-traditional – or previously untried – recruiting practices, both internally and externally, in response to the growing challenge of workforce strategy.

Nine percent of respondents say that they are increasing starting salaries or considering new offices or building out existing facilities in areas where the talent is.

“It is critically important for the youth to look into which sectors are employing,” she explains.

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey (MEOS), released this month, found that employers in seven South African sectors expect to grow payrolls during the October-December time frame.

The most optimistic hiring intentions were reported in the Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry and Fishing sector and the Mining and Quarrying sector, where Net Employment Outlook stands at +12%.

“Elsewhere, employers report cautiously optimistic hiring plans with outlooks of +9% in the electricity, gas and water supply sector and the finance, insurance, real estate and business services sector,” explains Van den Barselaar.

However, construction sector employers forecast negative hiring activity, with an outlook of -3%.

“Students planning to enter the job market need to keep up to date with the latest data concerning employment and sector performance. This will be to their advantage, as well as helping the economy to grow and unemployment to be reduced,” concludes Van den Barselaar.