Understanding SA's talent shortage: 2018 survey

Manpower survey explains that skilled trades, accounting and finance professions and management/executive roles are toughest to fill.

According to the 2018 Talent Shortage Survey by the Manpower Group, almost half (45 percent) of employers worldwide have difficulty filling vacancies because the right talent is not available. This is up from 40 percent in 2017 and the highest in more than a decade. In South Africa, 32 percent of employers report a talent shortage, a number that has decreased by two percentage points from the 2017 results.

The Manpower survey is the largest global human capital survey of its kind, with 39,195 employers in 43 countries and territories asked about the difficulties they are having filling roles compared to last year; the skills and human strengths that were the most difficult to find and why; and what they were doing to solve talent shortages.  

Findings state that lack of experience, lack of required hard skills and applicants expecting higher pay than offered are the top drivers of talent shortages in South Africa. Meanwhile, skilled trades (electricians, welders and mechanics), accounting and finance roles (certified accountants, auditors, financial analysts) and management or executive roles are the toughest roles to fill. Other tough skills to find were teachers, drivers, engineers and office support staff. 

Globally, employers in Japan (89 percent), Romania (81 percent) and Taiwan (78 percent) report the most difficulty filling positions, while those in the UK (19 percent), Ireland (18 percent) and China (13 percent) report the least difficulty. In Japan, the lack of labour supply, ageing demographics and immigration restrictions continue to fuel the problem, while in Romania and Taiwan it reflects the upward trajectory of near-shoring and off-shoring over recent years. The result is that employers are left with unfilled roles, threatening growth and operational efficiency.

Among the top ten most in-demand skills around the world, IT expertise is ranked sixth, reflecting a need for cybersecurity experts, network administrators, and technical support. Not only is the IT skill gap impacted by a shallow, qualified applicant pool, but IT managers also report that the rapid pace of technological advancements is threatening their infrastructure due to the need to retrain and re-educate tenured staff.