Get work ready with scarce skills


Imagine this: you’ve just finished your studies and you’re in high demand. You don’t find jobs; jobs find you. This could be a reality. How? With a scarce skill.

If you’ve heard of “scarce skills” before but have never really understood what it actually means, you’ve come to the right place. This could be the key to unlocking a bright future.

What’s a Scarce Skill?

Let’s first talk about the word “scarce”. The good ol’ Oxford dictionary defines this word as “insufficient for the demand”. Oooh. Kay. Let’s use a simple example. Water, in Cape Town, is scarce at the moment. What that means is there’s not enough of it (insufficient) for all the people that need it (the demand).


Scarcity can become a reality quite quickly. One minute there are enough people with a needed skill; the next minute, there’s a lack. How does the situation change so quickly? (Blurb)

Well, scarcity develops if:

  • not enough people have chosen to study towards a qualification that offers a certain skill set (those people did not read up on “scarce skills”)
  • the “brain drain” takes effect, where skilled people leave the country to work ovewrseas
  • there are too many people who study qualifications that already have enough skilled workers (be original, guys!)
  • special experience is required

This means that employers can’t find people who have the skills they require. Which brings us to our next point…

So, What’s in it for me?

Well, quite a bit. As we’ve mentioned, employers are on the lookout for people with scarce skills. The latest unemployment rate in South Africa stands at 26.6%. In case you’re wondering, this is not a good number and it’s not fun being a part of this statistic.

Fact: if you have a scarce skill, you have opportunities aplenty.

Firstly, jobs won’t be hard to come by. This is huge. Finding work is not a walk in the park. Especially in South Africa – remember that unemployment rate we just saw?

Other benefits include:

  • more funding opportunities are available to those who study towards a scarce-skill qualification
  • there’s a good chance of getting a high salary
  • you have the opportunity to progress your career
  • some scarce skills are scarce all over the world so you could have the opportunity to work abroad

Which Skills are Scarce?

There is a range of skills that make it onto the “scarce skills” list. Thanks to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), we know what these skills are. The DHET regularly puts together a list of the top 100 scarce skills in the country. To break it down, here are three of the major job categories in need of skilled labour.

  • Professionals
  • Technicians
  • Artisans/Trade Workers

This is where things get interesting. All three of these categories contain a few jobs – some of which might interest you. Here are some of the jobs that fall into each of the categories:

Jobs in the Professional sector include:

  • Architect
  • Education and Training (teacher)
  • Engineering (civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical)
  • Finance (accountant, actuary)
  • Health Professional (nurse, medical doctor, hospital pharmacist)
  • Information and Computer Professional (software developer, network analyst)
  • Natural and Physical Science Professionals (geologist, veterinarian)

Jobs in the Technician sector include:

  • Chemistry technician
  • Computer technician
  • Draughtsperson
  • Forensic technician
  • Fire investigator
  • Manufacturing technician

Jobs in the Artisan/Trade Workers sector include:

  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Toolmaker
  • Carpenter and joiner
  • Welder

For a full list of the jobs on the scarce skills list, you can check out the DHET official list on their website.

In Conclusion

The best way to win a popularity contest in the job market is to develop a scarce skill. Check out the official scarce skills list and choose something you might enjoy doing. It’s a worthwhile process which could save you from unemployment later.

You’re welcome


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This edition

Issue 58