Scarce Skills and Critical Skills

As you may know, South Africa has been facing a major skills shortage over the last decade or more. As a human resource professional, you could familiarise yourself with the lists of Scarce Skills and Critical Skills to see where the needs are and how to address the issues more effectively. “Importing” scarce skills from other countries may seem like a good idea but it’s not beneficial in the long run. It is up to us as South Africans to take matters into our own hands and put employees on an NQF ladder of learning to ensure the future of our people.

Scarce Skills refer to the occupations in which there are a scarcity of qualified and experienced people, currently or anticipated in the future, either (a) because such skilled people are not available or (b) they are available but do not meet employment criteria.

The Top Ten Scarce Skills in South Africa:

(as found in the Government Gazette Nr 37678)

Electrical Engineer

Civil Engineer

Mechanical Engineer

Quantity Surveyor

Programme/Project Manager

Finance Manager

Physical and Engineering Science Technicians

Industrial and Production Engineers


Chemical Engineer

Critical Skills refer to particular capabilities needed within an occupation, for example, general management skills, communication and customer handling skills, teamwork skills, problem solving [cognitive skills], communication [e.g., language and literacy skills] and technology skills.

A Shortened List of some of the Critical Skills in South Africa:

(A comprehensive list can be found here: http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/images/immigration_critical_skills.pdf)

Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural Scientist

Forestry Technician

Sheep Shearer


CISCO Solution Specialist

CISCO Engineers

Solutions Architects in Telecommunications and ICT

Integrated Developers (PHP, PERL, JAVA)

Network Analyst

Energy Engineer

Metallurgical Engineer

Chemical Engineer

Civil Engineer

Electrical Engineer

Medical Superintendant/Public Health Manager

Public Health Physician

General and Specialist Medical Practitioner

Hospital Pharmacist

Nursing Professionals

Environmental Engineers

Environmental Manager

Industrial Pharmacist

Aquatic Scientist

Animal Scientist

Land and Engineering Surveyors

Electronic Engineering Technician

Materials Engineering Technologist

Electrical Engineering Technician

Safety, Health, Environment and Quality Practitioner


Boilermaker (For Strategic Infrastructure Projects)

Industrial Machinery Mechanic

Pipe Fitter

Double Coded Welder

Software Development Engineers and Managers

Systems Architects, Engineers and Managers

Foreign Language speakers for specialist language support and technical or sales support

Business Analyst

Quality Analyst


Feel free to leave a comment in the section below or use ‘Contact Us’ to get in touch with any questions you may have around scarce and critical skills and how to combat the problem effectively.