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Which skills are lacking in S.A?

Skills shortages have been an issue for South Africa for some time now and this is further compounded by the growing need for technical and digital skills


A National Scarce Skills List of the top hundred scarce skills is regularly drawn up by the Department of Higher Education and Training. Various sources of information are combined, such as government job creation plans, like the National Development Plan, the National Infrastructure Plan, Industrial Policy Action Plan, and the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) Scarce Skills Lists, which indicates shortages in specific career fields.


With the unemployment rate standing at 26.6%, it is well worth remembering which skills will give you a competitive edge and increase your chances of landing a new job or, if you are an employer, which job roles you would have difficulty finding suitable replacements for.


According to a report on skills supply and demand in South Africa; the South African labour force is made up of 15 million employed and 7.5 million unemployed people. Unemployment is also particularly high amongst youth (15 to 34 years) and this is increasing as more young people join the labour force. Additionally, the education level and skill base of the labour force is lower than that of many other productive economies. Of the employed population, 20% have a tertiary qualification, 32% have completed secondary education, and close to half of the workforce do not have a grade 12 certificate.


A critical constraint on the education and training system and the labour market is the inadequate quality of basic education. Success in the school subjects of languages, mathematics and science, forms the basis for participation and success in technical subjects in post-school education and training institutions as well as the workplace. Presently, each year around 140 000 grade 12 students complete the matriculation examination with a bachelor’s pass, and of these only around 50 000 students pass mathematics with a score higher than 50%. The pool of students who can potentially access university and science based TVET programmes is very small in comparison to the skill demands in the country.


According to the Department of Labour, too few people study qualifications that are required to address the skills shortages in the country.


So what are the skills lacking in South Africa?




Manufacturing Manager, Engineering Manager, Power Generation Operations Manager, Project Manager, Construction Project Manager, Medical Superintendent/Public Health Manager, Franchise/Small Business Manager, Hotel Manager, Sales and Marketing Manager, Research and Development Manager, Human Resource Manager, Environmental Manager, Production Manager, Health and Safety Manager, General Manager of a Company, Retail Manager.




Architects, Designers, Planners and Surveyors: Architect, Land Surveyor, Town and Regional Planner.


Education and Training Professionals: Accounting Teacher, Agriculture Teacher, Business Studies Teacher, Computer Studies Teacher, Electrical Technology Teacher, Engineering Design Teacher, Hospitality Studies Teacher, Mathematical Literacy Teacher, Mathematics Teacher, Mechanical Technology Teacher, Physical Science Teacher, Tourism Teacher.


Engineering Professionals: Electrical Engineer, Civil Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Industrial and Production Engineer, Chemical Engineer, Energy Engineer, Materials Engineer, Metallurgical Engineer, Ship Engineer, Telecommunications Engineer, Environmental Engineer, Computer Network and Systems Engineer.


Finance Professionals: Accountant, Auditor (External), Actuary.


Health Professionals: Clinical Nurse, Registered Nurse (Aged Care, Child and Family Health, Community Health, Critical Care and Emergency, Developmental Disability, Disability and Rehabilitation, Medical and Surgical, Medical Practice, Mental Health, Pre-Operative, Surgical), Nursing Educator, Nurse Researcher, Nurse Manager, Medical Doctor, Hospital Pharmacist, Medical Scientist.


Information and Computer Professionals: Software Developers, Program Analyst, Developer Programmer, Computer Network Technician, Network Analyst, Chief Information Officer.


Natural and Physical Science Professionals: Geologist, Veterinarians, Marine Biologist, Conservation Scientist, Environmental Scientist.




Chemical and Physical Science Technician, Chemistry Technician, Computer Technician, Physical Science Technician, Civil Engineering Technician, Surveying or Cartographic Technician, Town Planning Technician, Electrical Engineering Technician, Energy Efficiency Technician, Electronic Engineering Technician, Mechanical Engineering Technician, Mining Technician, Geophysical Technician, Aeronautical Engineering Technician, Chemical Engineering Technician, Mining and Metallurgical Technician, Rock Engineering Technician, Draughts Person, Forensic Technician, Fire Investigator, Food and Beverage Technician, Environmental Engineering Technician, Manufacturing Technician




Electrician, Millwright, Boiler Maker, Fitter and Turner, Carpenter and Joiner, Welder, Plumber, Toolmaker, Diesel Mechanic, Electronics Instrument Trades Worker, Air-conditioning and Mechanical Services Plumber, Automotive Electrician, Automotive Motor Mechanic,Pressure Welder




Plastic Cable Making Machine Operator, Plastic Compounding and Reclamation Machine Operator, Plastics Fabricator or Welder


Plastics Production Machine Operator, Rotational Moulding Operator, Plastics Manufacturing Machine Minder, Reinforced Plastics and Composite Trades Worker




Earthmoving Plant Operator, Backhoe Operator, Bulldozer Operator, Excavator Operator, Grader Operator, Loader Operator


Mulcher Operator, Tunneling Machine Operator, Mobile Explosives Manufacturing Unit Operator, Scraper Operator


Dragline Operator, Railway Track Master, Road Roller Operator, Dump Truck Operator


Skills have the potential to transform lives and drive economies. However, in many countries, imbalances between supply and demand for skills lead to significant skills mismatches and shortages. It is time for South Africa to get skills right!


Training Force is a national accredited training provider that is focused on delivering industry and job-specific skills assessments and training interventions to businesses and their employees across all industry sectors. Browse our range of learnership courses today.