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The rarest skills in South Africa

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While some jobs are in high demand, many are very difficult to find. JESSE GREEN comments on the current job market in South Africa, with data collected from research done by Adzuna.

While some jobs are in high demand, others are very hard to find as well. Adzuna in South Africa has done some research on the most sought after skills by companies by number, compared to their demand from job seekers, crowning those that push both factors the furthest apart to be the rarest skills in the country. Important to note that by this logic, if a skill is in high demand but low in supply, this makes it rarer than skills which are low in both available candidates and low in demand.

From the data generated by listing over 130,000 online job listings in South Africa, as well as searching through mountains of search requests by millions of applicants, skills needed for the following industries and vacancies has risen and is high (see Table 1). However, cross-referenced is the amount of job seekers available or looking for the relevant skills, making some qualifications and skills far more rare to find.

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A 2,0 factor score would thus mean that in essence, twice as many vacancies exist as job seekers searching for such a position. If this does not seem rare enough already, bear in mind that the job seeker looking for work in that skill or job title may not even be qualified or suitable for the position.

The results contain a few interesting findings, yet the rarest skills still remain in the technology sector. Engineers and developers, together with financial skills, are clearly the hardest to find, with the most demand from firms, yet with the least available candidates. Interestingly, recruiters are now a hot skill, with many organisations and agencies requiring recruitment specialists in their HR departments.

Jesse Green, country manager for Adzuna South Africa commented on the findings: “While not every job in demand is posted online, the trends shown by the sample data are clear and meaningful. Companies must dig deep to explore new ways of attracting programming and engineering skills, as well as some of those in the financial or accountancy area. Management skills too, represent a challenge.”

Combining these two data sets gives one a clearer view on which skills are hardest to find in South Africa, yet not every rare skill is necessarily highly paid. As a third factor, salary would probably be able to assist in predicting further the rarest skills in South Africa, although in some industries, such as textiles, weaving managers with many qualifications and years of experience do not necessarily earn as high a income as one might imagine, given that there are extremely few of these skills in the country. The highest salaries for those skills in the Table 1 above were for engineers, pharmacists, project managers, developers and analysts.

“What is interesting to note, which is not shown in these results, is the change in salaries from May to September, where the rarer skills have not seen as much growth as one would have expected,” says Green.

Another means of interpreting skill rarity is to see what the Department of Labour recognises as South Africa’s “critical skills”. A list of critical skills is published annually and the list from 2014 is used by the Department of Home Affairs to determine if a foreign worker may be employed ahead of a South African. Green, who has a background in immigration services, mentions that unfortunately this list is becoming outdated and does not take into account later lists published by the Department of Labour.

With numerous means of finding out which skills are rare, the technology arena continually shines through as the place to be working in. Now, with finance skills showing an increasing difficulty to recruit, it will be interesting to see how companies, and hopefully the South African government, ensure that South African firms are able to hire the right people with the best competencies.

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IoT at starting gate

South Africa is already past the Internet of Things (IoT) hype cycle and well into the mainstream, writes MARK WALKER, associate vice president of Sub-Saharan Africa at International Data Corporation (IDC).

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Projects and pilots are already becoming a commercial reality, tying neatly into the 2017 IDC prediction that 2018 would be the year when the local market took IoT mainstream. Over the next 12-18 months, it is anticipated that IoT implementations will continue to rise in both scope and popularity. Already 23% are in full deployment with 39% in the pilot phase. The value of IoT has been systematically proven and yet its reputation remains tenuous – more than 5% of companies are reluctant to put their money where the trend is – thanks to the shifting sands of IoT perception and success rate.

There are several reasons behind why IoT implementations are failing. The biggest is that organisations don’t know where to start. They know that IoT is something they can harness today and that it can be used to shift outdated modalities and operations. They are aware of the benefits and the case studies. What they don’t know is how to apply this knowledge to their own journey so their IoT story isn’t one of overbearing complexity and rising costs.

Another stumbling block is perception. Yes, there is the futuristic potential with the talking fridge and intelligent desk, but this is not where the real value lies. Organisations are overlooking the challenges that can be solved by realistic IoT, the banal and the boring solutions that leverage systems to deliver on business priorities. IoT’s potential sits within its ability to get the best out of assets and production efficiencies, solving problems in automation, security, and environment.

In addition to this, there is a lack of clarity around return on investment, uncertainty around the benefits, a lack of executive leadership, and concerns around security and the complexities of regulation.  Because IoT is an emerging technology there remains a limited awareness of the true extent of its value proposition and yet 66% of organisations are confident that this value exists.

This percentage poses both a problem and opportunity. On one hand, it showcases the local shift in thinking towards IoT as a technology worth investing into. On the other hand, many companies are seeing the competition invest and leaping blindly in the wrong direction. Stop. IoT is not the same for every business.

It is essential that every company makes its own case for IoT based on its needs and outcomes. Does agriculture have the same challenges as mining? Does one mining company have the same challenges as another? The answer is no. Organisations that want their IoT investment to succeed must reject the idea that they can pick up where another has left off. IoT must be relevant to the business outcome that it needs to achieve. While some use cases may apply to most industries based on specific circumstances, there are different realities and priorities that will demand a different approach and starting point.

Ask – what is the business problem right now and how can technology be leveraged to resolve it?

In the agriculture space, there is a need to improve crop yields and livestock management, improve farm productivity and implement environmental monitoring. In the construction and mining industry, safety and emergency response are a priority alongside workforce and production management. Education shifts the lens towards improving delivery and quality of education, access to advanced learning methods and reducing the costs of learning.  Smart cities want to improve traffic and efficiently deliver public services and healthcare is focusing on wellness, reducing hospital admissions and the security of assets and inventory management.

The technology and solutions selected must speak to these specific challenges.

If there are no insights used to create an IoT solution, it’s the equivalent of having the fastest Ferrari on Rivonia Road in peak traffic. It makes a fantastic noise, but it isn’t going to move any faster than the broken-down sedan in the next lane. Everyone will be impressed with the Ferrari, but the amount of power and the size of the investment mean nothing. It’s in the wrong place.

What differentiates the IoT successes is how a company leverages data to deliver meaningful value-added predictions and actions for personalised efficiencies, convenience, and improved industry processes. To move forward the organisation needs to focus on the business outcomes and not just the technology. They need to localise and adapt by applying context to the problem that’s being solved and explore innovation through partnerships and experimentation.

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ERP underpins food tracking

The food traceability market is expected to reach almost $20 billion by 2022 as increased consumer awareness, strict governance requirements, and advances in technology are resulting in growing standardisation of the segment, says STUART SCANLON, managing director of epic ERP

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Just like any data-driven environment, one of the biggest enablers of this is integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

As the name suggests, traceability is the ability to track something through all stages of production, processing, and distribution. When it comes to the food industry, traceability must also enable stakeholders to identify the source of all food inputs that can include anything from raw materials, additives, ingredients, and packaging.

Considering the wealth of data that all these facets generate, it is hardly surprising that systems and processes need to be put in place to manage, analyse, and provide actionable insights. With traceability enabling corrective measures to be taken (think product recalls), having an efficient system is often the difference between life or death when it comes to public health risks.

Expansive solutions

Sceptics argue that traceability simply requires an extensive data warehouse to be done correctly, the reality is quite different. Yes, there are standard data records to be managed, but the real value lies in how all these components are tied together.

ERP provides the digital glue to enable this. With each stakeholder audience requiring different aspects of traceability (and compliance), it is essential for the producer, distributor, and every other organisation in the supply chain, to manage this effectively in a standardised manner.

With so many different companies involved in the food cycle, many using their own, proprietary systems, just consider the complexity of trying to manage traceability. Organisations must not only contend with local challenges, but global ones as well as the import and export of food are big business drivers.

So, even though traceability is vital to keep track of everything in this complex cycle, it is also imperative to monitor the ingredients and factories where items are produced. Having expansive solutions that must track the entire process from ‘cradle to grave’ is an imperative. Not only is this vital from a safety perspective, but from cost and reputational management aspects as well. Just think of the recent listeriosis issue in South Africa and the impact it has had on all parties in that supply chain.

Efficiency improvements

Thanks to the increasing digital transformation efforts by companies in the food industry, traceability becomes a more effective process. It is no longer a case of using on-premise solutions that can be compromised but having hosted ones that provide more effective fail-safes.

In a market segment that requires strict compliance and regulatory requirements to be met, cloud-based solutions can provide everyone in the supply chain with a more secure (and tamper-resistant) solution than many of the legacy approaches of old.

This is not to say ERP requires the one or the other. Instead, there needs to be a transition provided between the two scenarios that empowers those in the food supply chain to maximise the insights (and benefits) derived from traceability.

Now, more than ever, traceability is a business priority. Having the correct foundation through effective ERP is essential if a business can manage its growth and meet legislative requirements into the future.

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