Scarce skills

Once you complete your matric year you are faced with one of the most important decisions of your life. Namely deciding what tertiary education you want to pursue, as you will want to choose something you are passionate about and something that will ensure your future success.

If you are still undecided regarding what you want to study, a good place to start looking is scarce skills in South Africa. If you obtain a scarce skill qualification it almost guarantees that you will be able to find employment and build a successful career for yourself.

What is a scarce skill?

Scarce skills in South Africa refers to skills or qualifications that are in high demand by employers, due to a lack of skilled individuals to fill these positions. These skills become scarce for a variety of reasons including the following:

  • Individuals with the necessary skills decide to work overseas
  • Not many people choose to study in these fields
  • The skills are in a new or developing field
  • The companies that require the skill have strict policies for hiring candidates

Benefits of obtaining a scarce skill

With the high unemployment rate in the country it can be beneficial to obtain scarce skills in South Africa. We will look at some of these benefits below.

Many job opportunities

As there is such high demand for scarce skills there are many employment opportunities for individuals with these skills. This is because there is less competition when applying for jobs which improves your chances of being hired.

Higher salary

When there are skills shortages the need for employees becomes much greater. Therefore employers are willing to pay higher wages to secure the services of someone with the required skills. Meaning obtaining a scarce skill can help improve your financial situation.

Work Overseas

As many scarce skills are due to the difficulty in acquiring them, these skills are in high demand all around the world. Therefore, individuals who obtain these skills will have employment opportunities all over the world.

Scarce skills in South Africa

Now that we have a better understanding of what scarce skills are. We can take a look at some examples of scarce skills in South Africa. These skills are across a variety of fields such as finance, information technology, engineering, administration and more. We will take a closer look at some of these scarce skills below.


One of the most scarce skills in South Africa is actuaries. Actuaries work in the insurance industry to calculate the risk associated with clients and determine their premiums. They are skilled in statistics, mathematics and economics in order to effectively analyse the financial cost of risk for insurers. Part of the reason this is such a scarce skill is that it takes 9 years to become a qualified actuary. With four years for a full-time university degree and five years of part-time studying while working. Though this can be worth it as entry-level actuary positions pay an average of R1.02 million a year, with more experienced positions paying an average of R10.8 million per year. This is one of the biggest skill shortages in South Africa with only about 1300 actuaries in the entire country.

Civil engineer

The next of the scarce skills in South Africa is civil engineering. Civil engineers deal with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment. This includes public works like roads, dams, bridges, railways, pipelines and more. This is another skill that is difficult to obtain as it takes 4 years of full-time study at university to complete. The subject matter of civil engineering is also quite complex as it involves maths and science. The average salary for civil engineers is about R339 924 per year which can make the hard work of becoming qualified worthwhile.

Project manager

One of the scarce skills in South Africa in the administration field is project management. Project managers are tasked with the planning, procurement and execution of a project. They are the first point of contact for any discrepancies or issues that may arise between the heads of departments in an organisation. They work across a wide range of industries on any undertaking that has a defined scope, start and finish. Project management qualifications are offered by universities with some even offering online courses that take 8 months to complete. The average salary for a project manager is R497 724 per year. This is a scarce skill as its need across a wide range of industries ensures there is always a demand for qualified project managers.

Network security

There are many jobs in high demand in the field of information technology. Within this field, one of the most scarce skills in South Africa is network security. Network security managers are tasked with establishing the policies, processes and practices to prevent, detect and monitor unauthorised access or misuse of a computer network. In the digital age, this is a vital skill as it protects the information of the company. This is a scarce skill as information technology is a relatively new field, especially in South Africa. To become a network security manager you require a bachelor’s degree which takes 4 years to obtain. The average salary for this position is R626 986 per year which demonstrates the importance of digital security to companies.


These are just some examples of scarce skills in South Africa there are many more not mentioned here. Any of these can present great opportunities for anyone willing to obtain these skills. Therefore, if you are trying to decide what to study consider learning one of these or other scarce skills in an industry you are passionate about. As this can help you find employment and ensure your future success.

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