South African employment opportunities will be constrained across the board in 2017, with the notable exception of IT and legal jobs.
Political challenges in the region have negatively impacted the South African economy, which resulted in businesses taking a more cautious approach to hiring in 2016. Reseach from Robert Walters also found that companies will continue to face challenges related to employment equity (EE), which places certain restrictions on which candidates businesses can target.
Looking ahead to 2017, Nic Sephton-Poultney, country manager Robert Walters South Africa, comments: “We expect market conditions in South Africa to remain similar to those experienced during 2016, with most businesses adopting a cautious approach to hiring. Most will keep their headcount lean, only replacing critical skills and functions.
“Organisations will also be alert to the potential for absorbing new responsibilities into existing employees’ roles as they aim to diversify employee skill sets.
“However, we do expect to see increased hiring confidence in key areas, with specialist banking, legal and IT professionals in highest demand in 2017.”
However, IT skills remain in demand, and specialist IT professionals moving within the IT market can expect up to a 14% increase in salary when accepting a new role.
With demand for those with technical and specialist IT skills outstripping supply in 2017, organisations will need to offer lucrative packages to secure the best candidates.
“Demand was high for IT personnel at all levels, including technical developers and those with expertise across specific technologies,” Sephton-Poultney adds. “However, there were not enough candidates to meet this demand due to limited professionals with the right skill sets.”
Turnover among banking and financial services sector staff was highest among young professionals, with employment equity (EE) talent often moving regularly within their first few years of employment, as they look to develop their career and maximise their salaries.
The influx of international law firms to the South African market resulted in high turnover of senior level professionals during 2016, with international firms directly recruiting top senior lawyers from renowned local law firms.
“With practice heads now in place we expect rapid growth at associate level within these firms in 2017,” says Sephton-Poultney. “Local firms will aim to consolidate across key sectors such as banking and finance.”
The Robert Walters survey identified four key trends for 2017:
* Organisations will focus on replacement hires for business critical positions within finance, legal and IT;
* Organisations should place emphasis on offering clear career paths in order to secure the best professionals;
* Employment equity candidates will remain in high demand and
* Organisations will look to hire experienced professionals with local knowledge.
Sephton-Poultney says: “Despite reduced demand for skills overall, hiring managers will still be looking for professionals with two to five years’ experience, and at the more senior seven to 10 years’ level in 2017.
“Many employers will struggle to find these professionals as a result of ongoing skills shortages and low jobseeker confidence. In order to secure their ideal candidates, hiring managers are advised to streamline their recruitment process. Companies should also ensure they offer clearly defined career paths and opportunities to satisfy the needs of employees seeking both reassurance and variety.”