Hiring trends in recruitment in South Africa in 2017


Research from Robert Walters has found that the well-publicised political challenges in the region negatively impacted the economy, which resulted in businesses taking a more cautious approach to hiring and that hiring volumes were reduced across South Africa in 2016.

Companies will continue to face challenges related to employment equity (EE), which places certain restrictions on which candidates businesses can target.

Nic Sephton-Poultney, Robert Walters Country Manager – 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.”

IT professionals in highest demand due to candidate short market

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.

Nic continues:

“Demand was high for IT personnel at all levels, including technical developers and those with expertise across specific technologies. However, there were not enough candidates to meet this demand due to limited professionals with the right skill sets.”

Young professionals influence salary market in the banking sector

The banking and financial services sector turnover was highest amongst 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.

International law firms scoop up local senior level legal talent

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.

Nic continues:

“With practice heads now in place we expect rapid growth at associate level within these firms in 2017. Local firms will aim to consolidate across key sectors such as banking and finance.”

Key trends

  • 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.
  • Organisations will look to hire experienced professionals with local knowledge.

Nic continues:

“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 ten 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.”

For further information please contact Monique Miller on monique.miller@robertwalters.com or +27 (0)11 881 2416

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