Engineering occupations remain prevalent

A recent survey reveals that engineering skills are the most sought-after in South Africa.

According to the Xpatweb annual critical skills survey, employers are looking for highly qualified engineers with many years’ experience.

The new Critical Skills list, gazetted in February 2022, also includes numerous engineering occupations such as electrical, chemical and mining engineers.

“It is not surprising then that engineers were included in the new list, as the demand for their professional skills and experience outweighs the current availability in South Africa,” says Xpatweb.

Xpatweb says qualification requirements for those in the engineering field are of paramount importance. “Those wishing to apply for any of the occupations under the engineering section will need to have obtained formal qualifications as high as an honour’s degree, comparable to a NQF Level 8 South African qualification.

“This can be a difficult endeavour as an NQF 8 honour’s degree is a uniquely South African qualification, which refers to a one year post graduate study. Whereas most institutions globally view it as a form of merit in a class system, for example passing your bachelor’s degree with honours. The requirements for this specific level of qualification thus causes a hindrance for those who wish to apply for a Critical Skills Work Visa.”

Xpatweb notes that the shortage of experienced engineers in South Africa will continue to rise as the professionals are recruited globally including places like the Netherlands. “Whilst the new list seeks to assist with the shortage, more should be done to ensure that South Africa produces more engineers in the fields that are so sorely lacking,” Xpatweb says.

The South African government should prioritise skills development at grassroots level to stimulate education in these fields in order to avoid skills shortages of this nature in the future, says Xpatweb.

The government can do this by targeting students who are in grade nine and need to choose subjects that they will require to be able to further study in a certain field once matriculated. “Currently these students are not given enough information as to the vast number of occupations that they are able to choose from as future careers.”

Xpatweb suggests that a condensed version of the Critical Skills List be provided to each school and possibly each student, who will then be able to make more informed decisions regarding subject choices for their future studies. “This will ensure that more qualified South Africans enter the job market in the fields and occupations that are critically lacking.”