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Skills Shortages and Unemployment in South Africa: Part 2 – Overcoming the challenges

Click here for Part 1 of this article.

It is difficult to ignore the soaring unemployment rate, continuous electricity cuts and choking economic growth which are contributing to already high rates of poverty, social inequality and slower than anticipated economic recovery.

The South African workforce is experiencing several challenges, one being severe skills shortages. Skills shortages are driven by numerous factors, ranging from the adoption of new technologies to changing employee needs, says Lyndy van den Barselaar, Managing Director of ManpowerGroup SA, a global workforce solutions company. The issue is therefore twofold. Firstly, the South African workforce does not possess a sufficient amount of the critical skills needed within the changing working environment and secondly, many organisations’ brand and culture do not attract the necessary talent.

There is still a small amount of highly skilled individuals within the labour market, however, there is a high possibility that these individuals might opt to shift from traditional employment to join the freelance, temporary, gig or contract population. Alternatively, they might decide to join a start-up, where they can follow their selected career path and create something they are proud of. The growth of African start-ups is raising over $4 Billion and the World bank has declared start-ups as “the biggest job creating opportunity in South Africa.” This will inevitably worsen the position regarding skills shortages for traditional employers. People are seeking employment opportunities that align with their evolving and expanding needs, and employers cannot ignore these changing needs and expectations of the workforce.

How do we overcome these challenges?

In Part 1 of this article, it was mentioned that companies should find innovative approaches to overcome these challenges. Practical ways of overcoming these obstacles could include creating the talent you need from within the organisation, developing an outstanding employee value proposition (EVP), developing employer branding strategies and creating a culture that focuses on the employee experience.

Creation of talent from within

Creating the talent you need from the inside can be a very effective way of overcoming skills shortages. Companies need to invest in suitable and appropriate training. Smaller firms might feel that they do not have the necessary resources to meet the cost of training, but it is likely to be easier and more cost effective to train existing staff than to take on new employees. “Reskilling and upskilling will become non-negotiable for individuals and organisations as roles continue to require more skills than before, with both technology and human capabilities most in demand”, says the ManpowerGroup.

ManpowerGroup explains that soft skills including adaptability, communication and teamwork, take on increased importance. Therefore, employers will need to ensure that their employees are constantly being provided with sufficient opportunities to improve these skills. This is supported by McKinsey & Company, a trusted advisor and counsellor to many of the world’s most influential businesses and institutions, who found that over half of executives believe that developing the skills of their existing workforce is the most useful way to address the skills gap. “At the same time, 89% of workers want more learning opportunities such as remote skills development and career coaching”, said Van Barselaar.

Employer Branding

According to Celeste Sirin, employer branding specialist, speaker, facilitator and founder of Employer Branding SA, 72% of recruiting leaders around the world agree that employer branding has a significant impact on hiring and organisational success. Companies should therefore differentiate themselves in the labour market, to successfully recruit and retain skilled workers. Creatively leveraging employer branding and marketing strategies can grow and retain valued employees. In summary, to stand out amongst competitors in the talent-seeking market, companies need to position themselves in such a way that they become the employer of choice.

Employee Value Proposition

Additionally, companies should build a competitive and well-defined employer value proposition (EVP).  An EVP is a company’s core benefits that would make them the employer of choice. It is those benefits that a company and its culture offer employees in exchange for their talent, skills, and experience. The EVP should be communicated clearly in order to attract talented employees. A practical way of boosting your EVP is by producing new, exciting, informative content on social media platforms.  Companies should not only use social media or promote their EVP when they seek to recruit, but rather consistently. Indeed – a worldwide employment website – has data showing that 78% of people will investigate a company’s reputation before applying, with 88% of millennials placing importance on the company culture. Social/digital platforms are such an essential space for all companies to share their employer brand and highlight their culture to attract talented candidates.

A Culture of Employee Experience

Lastly, creating a culture focused on the employee experience, will increase your chances of retaining existing talent. As the world of work is slowly going back to normal, it is the perfect time for employers to rethink what their employees want and expect from their organisations. Creating an environment where employees know what is expected of them and where they are fairly rewarded according to their contributions, will solidify a company’s reputation as a favourable employer.

For a company to remain feasible, it needs to prepare for the workplace of the future by adapting its ways. The companies that make these changes now will reap the benefits of the changing business landscape.

Joubert & Associates specialises in developing and presenting tailor-made training programmes which meet the specific needs of our clients, and can therefore assist you in upskilling your workforce. Additionally, we offer organisational development programmes focused on the organisation’s specific developmental areas. A strategic session, facilitated by an HR consultant, may be the perfect way of rethinking your employer branding strategies or establishing an employer value proposition.

“Feel free to contact our offices to arrange a meeting with one of our skilled consultants to discuss your organisation’s needs.”

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