C-suite execs among critical skills needed in South Africa
Nearly 80% of organisations in South Africa are struggling to recruit and obtain critical skills in the country for their local and cross-border operations, with 76% confirming that an international search is necessary to meet business objective.
That’s according to Xpatweb’s Critical Skills Survey 2020/2021 , an annual survey of an array of multinational and corporate firms that’s fast become known as a benchmark for business and policy makers.
The survey reinforces the continuing difficulty South African organisations face when recruiting within and highlights the need for upskilling in certain key areas. Over the past five years, the skills shortage has persisted with eight categories of skills dominating the top of the list of professionals that business find most difficult to recruit, including engineers (18%), ICT (13%), media and marketing professionals (9%) and C-suite executives (7%).
According to the latest survey, the top 10 skills businesses are struggling to recruit include:
- Engineers (18%)
- ICT (13%)
- Foreign language speakers (10%)
- Media and Marketing Specialists (9%)
- Artisans (8%)
- C-Suite Executives (7%)
- Senior Financial Executives (6%)
- Health Professions
- Related Clinical Sciences (5%)
- Science Professionals (4%)
- Accounting (1%)
The survey reveals an increase of 2% since 2019 (from 16% to 18%) in the number of businesses that are finding it difficult to recruit engineers. While mechanical engineers (26%) are most in demand, maintenance engineers (18%), chemical engineers (13%) and industrial engineers (14%) are also difficult to find within the country.
Similarly, there’s been an increase in the number of firms finding it difficult to source ICT skills, with the most sought-after professionals including IT application developers (11%), data analysts (10%), data scientists (9%), software developers (9%) and software engineers (8%). According to Marisa Jacobs, Managing Director of Xpatweb, “as big data, robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and the internet of things rapidly shape the way of doing business… sourcing these skills is a priority that custs across all sectors.”
C-suite and senior financial executives difficult to find
Executives are in demand with 7% and 6% of organisations struggling to find C-suite execs and senior financial personnel, respectively. The most in-demand senior roles include chief operating officer (24%), chief financial officer (24%), chief executive officer (19%) and chief technology officer (19%) with these positions most sought-after in the sectors of finance, manufacturing, IT and mining.
According to Marisa Jacobs, Managing Director of Xpatweb, factors influencing the challenges that businesses face in recruiting the right person for the these roles include the fact that organisations are increasingly seeking professionals with international expertise.
“Businesses are not only seeking essential tick-box qualifications and experience required for a traditional executive position, but they want professionals who are equipped with niche business experience to lead their expansion and growth across international markets.”
Such global expansion of businesses and especially growth in cross-border trade on the African continent has also led to rising demand for foreign language skilled professionals with 10% of organisations struggling to find people with adequate foreign language skills, a significant leap from just 4% in 2019.
Among the language speakers most in demand are French (29%), German (18%), Mandarin (14%), Italian (10%), Spanish (10%) and Dutch (4%), with sectors most needing language skills including ICT, finance, hospitality and tourism and education.
Difficulty due to global competition for skills
Difficulties in finding such critical skills is in part due to South Africa competing on a global stage, the research finds, with the US, Australia and UK critical skills shortage lists virtually mirroring those of South Africa.
“South Africa has to compete more than ever with the likes of the US, Australia and the UK when considering its strategy to recruit skilled professionals,” says Jacobs, adding that South African policy makers therefore need to consider how to make it as easy as possible for skilled professionals to gain access to work and businesses opportunities locally.
“Fortunately, the government is serious about this and has updated the critical skills list to stay in touch with the needs of the local economy,” explains Jacobs.
5 Ways Leaders Can Create a Healthy Workplace Culture
This week (14th-20th June 2021) is Men’s Health Week. Physical and mental well-being have been important considerations for leaders over the past year, and it is essential this focus is maintained as we build back for the future. Here we have asked 5 experts for practical tips leaders can implement to create healthy workplace cultures.
Know the early signs of burnout
Recently it was reported by the BBC that burnout for health and social care staff had reached emergency levels.
Monkey Puzzle Training Co-Founder Karen Meager has studied the burnout recovery process in partnership with Coventry University: “The past year has seen people suffer from job-loss worries, work from home challenges, isolation, and feeling overworked. These are continuing, and all have the potential to contribute towards burnout. Healthcare workers, executives, leaders, managers and small business owners will continue to be the top people to suffer from extreme burnout.”
“At the onset of burnout, people commonly enter a phase of denial. So leaders need to be aware of those who are reluctant to take their time off, are compelled to work all hours, or have changes in their behaviour or mood, as these can all be indications of burnout taking hold. Encouraging them to take a burnout self-test provides a starting point to supporting these employees through recovery, as is role modelling healthy sustainable ways of working.” Karen suggests.
Encourage professional self-reflection
Creating an environment that encourages self-reflection is an effective tool for promoting personal development. Journaling may not be something you instantly think of for professional development; however, it is a successful technique for adults to aid mindfulness and productivity. “Journaling is a form of self-expression that can empower you to understand your feelings and ambitions and how to deal with them, therefore promoting positive well-being and a healthy workplace culture,” describes Elisa Nardi, founder of Notebook Mentor.
“Just 15-20 minutes of journaling a day over the course of four months are enough to lessen the impact of physical stressors on your health,” explains Elisa. “It can also inspire creativity, aid your memory, and help set actionable goals. It is an underused tool that can help employees manage tricky workplace situations such as conflict, illness or new leadership roles.”
Manage your stress and resilience too
As a leader or manager, often, your complete focus is on the business or protecting your team, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. Leaders should also have strategies in place to manage their own stress, so they can sustain high levels of positive energy throughout the day. “Fueled by a burning desire for success, I ignored all the warning signs of exhaustion, which eventually took its toll on me - I literally collapsed from stress, and I didn’t even see it coming.” reflects Sascha Heinemann, an expert in Performance Recovery and Stress Resilience.
“When leaders manage their energy, create healthy daily habits, and practice resilience, they are able to perform to their fullest capacity and to provide the best possible support for others.”
“Taking a break every 90 minutes or so helps you to refuel, recharge, and re-energize and ultimately allows you to get more accomplished, in less time, at a higher level of quality, and more sustainably. This role model contributes dramatically to a healthier, more engaged, sustainable, and productive workplace culture," he adds.
Instil a sense of purpose for your team
The idea that success equals working 12-15 hour days and giving everything of yourself to your workplace continues to prevail in many organisations. This is not healthy, nor is it productive for anyone involved. “The healthiest and happiest workplace cultures are the ones that are organised around purpose.” describes business and life coach Anand Kulkarni.
“Leaders should be giving meaning to the work they are doing within their business and beyond and sharing this purpose with their staff, rather than focusing on long hours, crippling workloads or someone else’s idea of ‘success’. When people understand why they are doing what they do and how this contributes to something greater, productivity and well-being is increased.” adds Anand.
Promote well-being from the top down
Leaders need to act as role models if well-being is to become embedded at the very core of the organisation. It’s very unlikely that employees will start acting in a new way that puts their own needs first if the leadership team continues to behave in an entirely different manner.
‘Many organisations have worked hard in recent months to put new policies in place that better support well-being, promote hybrid working and attempt to set clear boundaries, but many leaders seem to assume that they are exempt from it all, that’s when it all falls over’, explains leadership experts Martin Boroson and Carmel Moore, from The One Moment Company.
A recent ONS report into Homeworking in the UK revealed that people are on average working 6 hours extra per week, and many are working until late in the evening, indicating that the boundaries between work and life are more blurred than ever.
“Despite all of these wonderful opportunities for people to self-organise, if the leadership team continues to work in the office Monday to Friday, or are communicating at all hours, then it’s a clear indicator that hybrid working is simply a ‘bolt-on’ tactic rather than an integral part of the company’s approach to promoting the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.’