4 jobs in demand in South Africa – and the ‘non-traditional’ skills companies are now looking for when hiring

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation are rapidly changing the business landscape, and cybersecurity and cloud migration are more urgent than ever.

Still, the pool of professionals in this field is limited, and employers are struggling to fill the IT skills gap, as demand outstrips supply, says Margaret Pekelaar, people manager of DevOps Practice at Altron Systems Integration.

Pekelaar said the situation is further exacerbated by growing emigration and remote work arrangements, which means local employers are facing global companies in the war for talent.

“It is important for South Africa to develop its own IT skills so that local businesses can expand their operations, respond to local conditions and meet changing customer expectations. Employers are increasingly willing to consider talent from non-traditional backgrounds for IT-related jobs, as they recognize that the labor market is changing and skills can be transferred from one discipline to another. “, she said.

Pekelaar said the most in-demand skills among IT professionals in South Africa today include:

  • Cloud anything – This includes cloud engineers who are responsible for managing, planning, architecting, and monitoring cloud workloads. Cloud developers, software engineers specializing in cloud computing, and cloud migration engineers with a solid understanding of cloud and infrastructure components are also in high demand.
  • Data Engineers – Data engineers generally deal with the data of an organization with technical skills that collect, manage and convert raw data into usable formats for analytical or operational purposes.
  • DevOps Engineers – Responsible for implementing processes and tools to balance needs throughout the software development lifecycle, from coding to deployment.
  • Java Developers – Java is a software language used by many organizations, especially large organizations in South Africa and abroad. These are software engineers with the skills to develop computer applications with an emphasis on frontend applications or backend services.

Mid-career change and non-traditional skills

Pekelaar noted that there has also been a trend in the IT sector in South Africa where professionals are pivoting mid-career into completely new roles. That includes employers who increasingly consider “non-traditional” backgrounds when hiring, she said.

“People who have a background in financial services, such as accountants or auditors, who during their initial career have worked extensively with computer systems, develop a good understanding of how computer systems work. People with these backgrounds bring valuable business know-how and experience to complement IT teams.

“Engineers, especially electronic and industrial engineers who are exposed to computer systems in college, are moving from more traditional engineering careers to all-computer careers.”

She added that careers that have strong analytical skills — financial analysts, lawyers — are generally suitable for IT analyst careers.

“Nowadays, tech tools change frequently and are more developed, so a ‘deep’ specialization on tech tools isn’t always as ‘valuable’ as it used to be.

“The ability to quickly learn and grasp technical concepts, strong analytical skills, the ability to cope with continuous change and strong communication skills are important EQ skills required in the IT industry. In addition , the diversity of knowledge within teams can be very valuable.

Read: South Africa to introduce new rules for self-driving cars

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