Engineers are in short supply in South Africa according to government’s national scarce skills list.

The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, MP, has gazetted the National Scarce Skills List: Top 100 Occupations in Demand and called for comments from all interested parties.

Electrical engineers are listed first on the list, followed by civil engineers and mechanical engineers.

The country’s Human Resource Development Strategy for 2010 to 2030 emphasises the need for a national scarce skills list which is aligned to the country’s social and economic priority goals. Information about scarce skills is therefore of vital importance as it informs human resource planning and development; resource allocation and prioritisation; the development of relevant qualifications, programme and curricula; and international recruitment strategies. It also enables institutions of higher learning and other training providers to plan and channel resources towards programme offerings that are in demand.

The Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) has identified five priority skills areas for immediate attention:

  • high-level, world-class engineering and planning skills for the network industries, namely transport, communications, water and energy
  • city, urban and regional planning and engineering skills
  • artisanal and technical skills, with priority attention to infrastructure development, housing and energy, and in other areas identified as being in strong demand in the labour market
  • management and planning skills in education and health
  • mathematics, science and language competence in public schooling.
New Growth Path

The New Growth Path is a strategy to create millions of new jobs in South Africa. It sets out critical markers for employment creation and growth and identifies where viable changes in the structure and character of production can generate a more inclusive and greener economy over the medium to long term.

The strategy aims to target at least 30 000 additional engineers by 2014, changing subsidy formulae for universities as appropriate. It also hopes to improve skills in every job and target 1.2 million workers for certified on-the-job skills improvement programmes annually from 2013.

National Scarce Skills List

The top 20 scare skills on the list are:

1              Electrical Engineer

2              Civil Engineer

3              Mechanical Engineer

4              Quantity Surveyor

5              Programme or Project Manager

6              Finance Manager

Physical and Engineering Science Technicians

8              Industrial and Production Engineers


10           Chemical Engineer

11           Construction Project Manager

12           Mining Engineer

Accountant (General)

14           Energy Engineer

15           Materials Engineer

16           Electronics Engineer

17           Metallurgical Engineer

18           Medical Superintendent / Public Health Manager

Telecommunications Engineers

20           Energy Engineering Technologist

The National Scarce Skills List was compiled following a number of processes. Firstly, there was agreement on the terms of reference for the compilation of the list. An Advisory Committee was constituted to provide input to the research, and research was conducted and employer association representatives were engaged. Draft findings were presented to the Advisory Committee and the review and revision of findings followed.

View the full list.

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