This is one of the findings from a new research report, Domestic to Global Leadership: Positioning South African companies for global competitiveness.
While the trend is consistent with international developments, it suggests that despite high levels of unemployment in South Africa, skills shortages persist in certain areas.
Where local companies also operate on the African continent, 40% of respondents said they would look outside the country for talent. Where they do business globally, the percentage was 30%, says Jenny Tyobeka, founder of JT Executive Coaching and Advisory Services.
The significant complexity surrounding unemployment, education and skills in South Africa was again thrust into the spotlight when students across the country participated in #FeesMustFall protests over the past week. On Friday, president Jacob Zuma announced there would be no hikes in tertiary education fees for 2016.
But tertiary education by itself, whether at reduced costs or not, is highly unlikely to be the silver bullet to South Africa’s unemployment and skills conundrum.
Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions, says there is a mismatch between the skills tertiary institutions are providing and the skills the labour market requires.
Yet, a study commissioned by the Centre for Development and Enterprise suggests the issue of graduate unemployment in South Africa is over-exaggerated. The study found that even after the financial crisis, graduate unemployment remained at around 5%.
But, says Vittee, the need for experience cannot be dispelled, and this is why some companies are crossing South African borders to access talent. Firms like Roshcon are importing artisan skills, as these skills are in short supply locally. Some companies also brought civil engineers from outside South Africa to the country in the run-up to the World Cup because of the skills shortage.
Tyobeka says a few years ago Adcorp estimated that there was a supply gap of roughly 216 000 managers, especially in the senior echelons of companies in South Africa. With the available skills, it would not be possible to develop talent in the short-term to cover that gap.
The only way South African companies can overcome this shortage is by recruiting across borders, but also through internal leadership development, she says.
“South African companies are really not doing as well as they should in terms of growing the internal leadership capability. It is a huge problem.”
The exploratory research was conducted between October 2014 and February 2015 through an online questionnaire, involved 79 corporate employees from Top40 and mid-cap listed entities, medium-sized private companies and parastatals and was a collaborative effort between JT Executive Coaching and Advisory Services, Lodestar Marketing Research and Quest Staffing Solutions.
Brought to you by Moneyweb