Software developers with specific skills and languages were in short supply before the pandemic and continue to be in short supply in South Africa. How can companies adjust to the new realities after the pandemic?
By Stephen van der Heijden, vice-president: growth at OfferZen
What software development skills remain in demand?
Software development is a deceptive broad field, so companies with specific needs might find it harder to attract people with the right set of skills. For instance, based on data from the OfferZen marketplace, full-stack developers are currently in high demand by South African companies, but there’s a shortage of full-stack developers available in the local talent pool.
The pandemic saw more companies shift to digital products and services, and remote work, creating a bigger demand for software developers. The global shift meant companies had to diversify their talent pools from regional to global talent pools. As a result, South African software developers are increasingly seen as a great source of talent by international companies.
What makes this even harder is that many companies are looking for developer talent in the wrong places. Finding great developers is difficult, but if you’re looking in the same city and on the same channels as everyone else, it’s unlikely that you’re going to find great people that can make an impact on your team.
What has changed since the pandemic – according to 2022 State of the Developer Nation report – is the number of developers looking to leave South Africa to work abroad. In the last three years, the number of South African developers looking to move abroad has decreased by 14%. Good news, provided your company can meet or exceed the offers they are receiving from international companies, and you’re able to offer perks and benefits that would make your company stand out. However, we are unsure of how the current loadshedding will impact hiring of software developers going forward.
Bridging the gap
While the majority of software developers in South Africa are still traditionally educated with a four-year university degree, we are seeing the rise of tech bootcamps as a way to bridge the skills gaps in tech.
Coding bootcamps offer accelerated, concentrated learning in specific tech skills, like data science, with graduates able to immediately move into junior-level roles in tech. Companies looking to hire software developers who keep this in mind, and expand their eligibility criteria to include bootcamps, are more likely to find a suitable candidate.
Companies that don’t start looking beyond the usual channels and talent pools will simply fail at hiring developer talent. Gone are the days of putting a job posting on your website and sending out a few LinkedIn requests to find the perfect developer (if this ever worked for developers). Gone too are the days when you could reject someone from your pipeline because they didn’t fit into your existing culture of private school friends and elite university graduates.
We’re now spending our time and effort helping companies figure out how to embrace this – to look beyond their borders and understand all of the complexities that come with that – language, relocation or remote work, and currency and salary differences.