The 350 jobs that are in high demand in South Africa

  • The Department of Higher Education and Training has published the fifth edition of its National List of Occupations in High Demand.
  • Published every two years, the jobs listed show high employment growth, high wage growth, high vacancy growth a recruitment activity in the medium term.
  • There is a high demand for a variety of occupations from ICT managers to butchers.

Choosing a career is an incredibly tough exercise especially when you consider that most people are choosing a career to study for many years before they even achieve the qualification. This carries the risk of choosing a career that could be flooded with workers or defunct by the time you qualify for it.

To assist future generations in choosing a career, the Department of Higher Education and Training publishes its National List of Occupations in High Demand every two years. This list includes many occupations that, per the department, exhibit the following signals:

  • High employment growth
  • High wage growth
  • High vacancy growth
  • High likelihood of seeing recruitment activity in the medium term

This year sees the fifth publication of this list, the first being published in 2014 and the Department of Higher Education and Training adopted a novel approach to the list.

“For the 2024 list, the most significant development was replacing the call for evidence with an online survey. This has increased the coverage of views through two avenues. Firstly, the evidential burden of respondents has been lightened by using their responses as evidence instead of expecting them to provide evidence for their views on occupational demand. The lower requirement on the respondents, in terms of time and administrative effort, increased the response rate. Second, instead of only being able to attain the views of a few industry stakeholders, the survey was decimated beyond immediate networks to networks of networks by forwarding a link via e-mail and social media platforms,” reads the list.

All tolled, the 2024 National List of Occupations in High Demand features 350 job types and they are as varied as you can hope for. While we can’t include the whole list here for space reasons, the official document from the department is embedded below.

In addition to things like ICT Project Manager, Logistics Manager, Actuary, and Biochemist you’ll find jobs like Digital Artist, Web Designer and Multimedia Designer. Some jobs which are often overlooked in favour of flashier digitally-focused jobs are also listed. For example, butchers, confectionery bakers, and tailors are all in high demand locally.

The department also notes that drivers for buses, taxis, trucks, tanks and even forklifts are in high demand. As are librarians, therapists and engineers.

It’s an interesting mix of occupations and to us, highlights just how devasting the pandemic and ensuing lockdown was for many South Africans. The fact of the matter is that under lockdown, some jobs just simply weren’t doable. A hotel outside of a major metro for instance would’ve suffered with no guests and the large office buildings and parks business vacated under lockdown meant support staff for those buildings weren’t needed.

While the country is recovering, it has a ways to go. The 2024 National List of Occupations in High Demand notes that between 2019 and 2023, the unemployment rate for new graduates increased 1.2 percentage points.

What we found most interesting is that, according to the DHET, the level of education-job mismatches (where a person’s job doesn’t match the qualification they have) is incredibly high at 51.7 percent. To add to this, 23 percent of South Africans are overqualified for the job they have. We interpret this as South Africans being so desperate to work that they will take any opportunity that comes their way, even if it’s not within their chosen career objectives or if they are overqualified for it.

It speaks to the desperation many in the country feel and the pervading opinion that any job is better than no job.

The Department of Higher Education and Training is also piloting similar lists for individual provinces. The first provinces in this pilot are Mpumalanga and the Western Cape and the lists of high-demand occupations can be found on the department’s website.

The full list of occupations in high-demand for 2024 is contained in the document below. Alternatively, you can find the document here.

[Image – Jan Vašek from Pixabay]


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