The most in-demand IT skills in the country are security, data protection, cloud computing, IT services management, big data analytics, and networking.
This is according to a new Future of Work Skills report commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by IDC (International Data Corporation).
The report found that with over 90% of South African businesses engaged in digital transformation, the country is experiencing a need for deeper and more complex digital skills.
“As organisations look to deploy a wider range of technologies to support their digital transformation agendas, so their skills requirements will increase,” it said.
44% of South African companies are now finding it difficult to recruit staff with digital skills, and these challenges are expected to grow over time.
64% of businesses also expect to see an increase in positions that require deep technology skills over the next two to three years.
To meet demand, more than half of organisations in South Africa are now actively upskilling their employees.
Mark Walker, associate vice-president of the IDC, said the biggest challenge in acquiring these skills comes less from a lack of qualifications and more from a general lack of expertise.
To meet this growing concern, companies are relying on hiring experienced workers from their own or other industries.
“These companies are not looking for qualifications, they are looking for expertise – which are two mutually exclusive areas,” he said.
Walker said companies typically poach experienced staff from their competitors to acquire the skills they need.
Most in-demand IT skills in South Africa
The biggest skills gap currently lies in security-related and data protection skills – a reflection of the heightened awareness among businesses about the increasing threat of cybercrime.
53% of companies say they already lack this necessary skill set, while 59% expect to need more security specialists in just two years’ time.
The demand for cloud computing skills is also high, which is not surprising given the race for South African organisations to deploy cloud technology.
“Nine out of ten companies in South Africa increased spending on cloud computing last year,” the report states.
Other in-demand skill sets businesses will need to help drive digital transformation are mobile technology specialists, good networkers, and data analysts.
“Deep technology skills will become particularly sought after over the next two years,” Microsoft said.
The charts below show the most in-demand skills in South Africa, and skills which are likely to be needed in future.