It’s official: engineering is SA’s scarcest skill

Engineers, quantity surveyors and finance managers are considered one of the scarcest skills in South Africa. But did you know how scarce?

Last year the Department of Higher Education and Training published a draft list of the top 100 scarcest skills in the country, and accountant was listed as the 13th most needed skill in the economy. Interestingly, finance manager is listed as the country’s 6th most needed skill.

A scarce skills is defined as one where the skills are simply not available when needed, or where the skills are available, the candidate does not meet the specific employment requirements for the job.

“Chartered accountants are an occupation in high demand. However, these professionals work in a range of occupations such as, but not limited to, CEOs, CFOs, financial managers, financial analysts, audits, project managers, general managers, and so. Thus the occupational title CA is not listed,” according to the authors of the list.

Unsurprisingly, engineers of various stripes crowd the upper rungs of the scarce skills list. This is not surprising given the volume of infrastructure and construction projects underway. It is also worth noting that most South African construction and engineering firms have diversified abroad, and many of country’s best skills are now working outside the country, joining the expatriate stampede for US dollar-based earnings that has taken grip in the last decade.

This scarcity puts engineers (those with the right skills) in the driving seat when it comes to negotiating remuneration and conditions.

SA’s Most Needed Skills

1 Electrical Engineer

2 Civil Engineer

3 Mechanical Engineer

4 Quantity Surveyor

5 Programme or Project Manager

6 Finance Manager

7 Physical and Engineering Science Technicians

8 Industrial and Production Engineers

9 Electrician

10 Chemical Engineer

11 Construction Project Manager

12 Mining Engineer

13 Accountant (General)

14 Energy Engineer

15 Materials Engineer

16 Electronics Engineer

17 Metallurgical Engineer

18 Medical Superintendent / Public Health Manager

19 Telecommunications Engineers

20 Energy Engineering Technologist

21 Millwright

22 Public Health Physician

23 Nursing Professionals

24 Registered Nurse (child and family health)

25 General Medical Practitioner

26 Veterinarian

27 Industrial Pharmacist

28 ICT Systems Analyst

29 Geologist

30 Hospital Pharmacist

31 Boiler Maker

32 Fitter and Turner

33 Carpenter and Joiner

34 Welder

35 Environmental Engineers

36 Retail Pharmacist

You can find the full report here




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  • Frank

    Can you give examples of engineering and physical science technicians? Is a refrigeration technician falling under this.

  • Monique

    Great post. I ‘m confronting a couple of these issues.

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