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Skilled trades shortage still bites SA

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ManpowerGroup’s eleventh annual Talent Shortage Survey shows some interesting results for 2016 over the 2015 results, with Skilled Trades remaining in the top three most difficult positions for companies to fill, and Engineers falling down to fourth.
The survey is conducted annually, using a sample of 750 businesses in South Africa.
The results show that 34% of local employers are having difficulty filling jobs, up 3% from the results of the 2015 survey and a staggering 26% when compared to the 2014 results.
Employers across the globe are facing the most acute talent shortage since the recession. Of the more than 42 000 employers surveyed, 40% are experiencing difficulties filling roles; the highest level since 2007.
As skills needs change rapidly, employers are looking inside their organisations for solutions, with more than half choosing to develop and train their own people. This represents a significant jump from ManpowerGroup’s 2015 survey, when just 20% prioritised training and development to fill roles or find new skills. In the IT sector, businesses are reporting the most marked talent shortage in a number of years. IT roles jump from ninth to second place, the first time the sector has entered the top 5 hardest roles to fill.
Of the 42 300 employers surveyed globally, the hardest jobs to fill remain Skilled Trade Workers for the fifth consecutive year. Sales Representatives, Engineers, Technicians and Drivers all slip one ranking, 3rd – 6th respectively, and Office Support Staff drops two places to 10th. Production and Machine Operators also become harder roles to fill as they move from 10th to 9th when compared with 2015.
“This year’s Talent Shortage Survey presents interesting results for South Africa and for the global employment landscape. More than anything the results highlight the increased need for skilled individuals but also the number of employers who are focusing on training and development in order to fill open positions, which has increased globally,” explains Lyndy van den Barselaar, MD of Manpower South Africa. “As the talent shortage escalates, employability now depends not only on what you know, but on your ability to learn, apply and adapt to the constantly evolving business landscape. Manpower has always been of the opinion that the desire and ability to learn new skills is the number one contributing factor to helping people remain employable throughout their career journey, and we are seeing this ring true more than ever.”
While 72% of local employers said they were experiencing similar difficulty filling positions when compared to last year, 7% said they were experiencing increased difficulty and 17% said they were experiencing less difficulty.
When asked why they are having difficulties filling jobs, 27% of local employers cited a lack of experience, 26% cited lack of hard skills, 14% said that candidates were looking for more pay than what was being offered, 9% cited a lack of available applicants (or none at all) and 8% cited issues specific to their organisation.
When asked what strategies they were pursuing to overcome the difficulties created by the skills shortage, 86% of local employers said they are training and developing existing employees in order to fill open positions. Moreover, 60% of employers said they were looking to recruit outside of their talent pool, 54% said they were exploring alternative sourcing strategies, 44% said they were paying higher salaries packages to recruits and 41% said they were providing additional perks or benefits to recruits.
“In previous years the survey found that businesses were having to find new and innovative ways to face the challenges caused by the skills deficit in order to minimise the negative effects on their businesses; while this is still true, we now see that job seekers and current employees are also taking it upon themselves to remain upskilled and up to date with the latest technologies and advancements in the modern business environment,” Van den Barselaar says.
“We are excited to see that he number of employers investing in and focusing on training and development has increased significantly at a global level. Should this trend continue, it will inevitably have a positive effect on the skills deficit.”