How SA’s critical skills list can guide your child on their career path

How SA’s critical skills list can guide your child on their career path

Last updated on 20th May, 2022 at 05:23 pm

South Africa’s recently published critical skills list (CSL) is not only intended for foreign nationals, but can also serve as a great guide for your matric child or guardian in their professional pathway to plug the gap in line with the skills shortage in the country.

The CSL comprises 101 occupations, and stipulates which skills and qualifications are deemed to be critical in South Africa – either for an application for a work visa or for a permanent residence permit. According to immigration law firm Fragomen’s senior manager Caroline Kanzara, “The South African Department of Home Affairs has implemented a new CSL, effective 1 February 2022, replacing the 2014 CSL that had been effective since 3 June 2014. The review of the CSL came about because the 2014 list was outdated owing to many factors, including, but not limited to, economic development, successful skills development programmes, an increased influx of graduates into the South African economy and the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says.

If your matric child or dependant is undecided about which career to choose, the critical skills list is a great place to start. So, what are some of the most lucrative sectors in the CSL? Which subjects should your child take to (ultimately) qualify for one of these jobs? And which qualification would best be suited to your child? We found out.

#1: Engineering

South Africa needs engineers. civil, mechanical, chemical, mining, metallurgy, electrical, energy, electronic, mechatronic, aviation and marine (particularly naval) engineers. According to career coach and director and founder of Stand Tall Consulting Nike Wadds, engineering undergraduate admission requirements include mathematics (not mathematical literacy) and physical science. “Learners therefore need to have a strong aptitude in these subjects at school to gain university entry,” she says.

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Natalie Rabson​, skills development facilitator and career counsellor at Ivy Academy, encourages your matriculant to persevere with their maths skills and says they also need to be able to think logically, and in a 3D manner, if they’d like to pursue a career in this field. Why? “The skills that everyone’s looking for in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) include problem solving, flexibility and a fluid approach,” she says.

Qualifications needed:

Employers prefer an NQF Level 8 qualification (honours degree) for most entry-level engineering positions. For some professions, students may be required to complete a period of practical work under supervision and obtain a professional qualification (such as in the case of quantity surveyors).

Wadds adds, however, that, although qualifications from traditional universities are generally more sought after by employers, there are alternative study routes where students can pursue a diploma in engineering, for example, and study further to achieve the same level of qualification perhaps through distance learning while gaining relevant work experience.   

#2: Information technology and communications (ICT)

Sought-after occupations listed within the information technology and communications sector include data science, information management, systems analysis and design, software development, programming, network systems engineering, computer quality assurance (QA) and ICT/cyber security.

Qualifications needed:

“Depending on the institution, pure mathematics plus physical science or information technology are required school subjects to study for a degree in computer science or information systems,” says Wadds.

A bachelor’s degree (NQF Level 7) would generally be the minimum requirement for entry-level positions. Additional professional certifications may also be required.

Do you have a child in matric who is stressed about their final school exams? Here is a guide to help you help them succeed.

#3: Multimedia

The past few years have seen many businesses move online due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, multimedia skills have become essential to ensure businesses can produce high-quality online content for their customers.

“Due to global digitalisation, there are many work opportunities in all multimedia spheres,” says Rabson. “Social media, content development, marketing, public relations, animation… all of these careers are so big right now that our students at Boston Media House are being offered jobs before they’ve even graduated.” She explains that entry requirements for this degree come down to a strong flair and good matric English results, personality and flexibility – someone who isn’t looking for a nine-to-five job. A learner who is looking to venture into the multimedia world would be expected to work independently and in a team – with a supervisor or without. They would have to cope with work deadlines. They would need to be digitally competent. And they would have to be able to think critically.

Qualifications needed:

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in broadcast media, a diploma in media practices, a BA in multimedia, and/or an animation or graphics course are a few examples of degrees/courses that would be required.

Use your free Personal Assistant to help you source quotes for courses to help your matric child succeed in their chosen field.

#4: Education

If your child plans to go into teaching or lecturing, they should look to focus on content subjects such as history, geography, life sciences etc. Even better, if your child has an affinity for science – they should go for it. “Science teachers are in high demand, and they are paid well,” notes Rabson.

She urges students who would like to become teachers or lecturers to do an undergraduate degree such as a BA or Bachelor of Commerce (BComm), followed by a one-year postgraduate degree or certificate to qualify as a teacher. “There is a shortage of teachers, and your child doesn’t have to specialise early on in an education degree. This, with the postgraduate certificate, will give them a broader education. It qualifies them as a teacher, but it also means they can go and work in a corporation at a later stage if they’d like to.”

Qualifications needed:

Either a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree or a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) would unlock opportunities for your child.

#5: Business and finance

Critical skills roles within the business sector include general management, organisational risk management, actuarial science, finance (taxation, forensic accountancy, investment management/analysis and auditing) and economics. Market research analytics, data management and business development skills are also in demand. “Pure mathematics is an essential school subject for all of the these undergraduate programmes. While accounting and business studies are relevant subjects and would help to narrow the learning curve, they are not prerequisites for admission to a commerce or business science degree,” stresses Wadds. She points out that accounting as a subject is recommended for a Bachelor of Accounting programme, but it is not essential for admission if the applicant has a strong mathematics score.

Qualifications needed:

Qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in commerce, business science, accounting or data science, with different options/majors depending on the chosen field of study. Further study and relevant professional certifications are often required.

#6: Architecture and urban and regional planning

Architects, urban and regional planners, town planning technicians and draughtspeople are all in demand in SA right now. “Pure mathematics is an essential prerequisite school subject for entry into undergraduate courses if your child would like to pursue a career in this field,” explains Wadds, who adds that visual art and engineering and graphic design are not essential for architectural studies, but would be beneficial owing to the heavily weighted architectural portfolio and nature of studies.

Qualifications needed:

A diploma or advanced diploma in architectural technology (NQF Level 6) provides an alternative route to study in the field of architecture to pursue a career as an architectural technologist or draughtsperson. Professional architects need to have a master’s degree in architectural studies and a professional qualification after a period of practical training under the supervision of a professional architect. “Urban and regional town planners with a master’s degree are also in high demand,” she says.

Stand your child in good stead to have a satisfying and stable career. Sanlam Reality members (excluding Reality Access for Fedhealth) can enjoy access to the Ivy Online education platform. It offers free supplementary online education, based on the CAPS curriculum, for Grades 8-12. Click here for more information.



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