There’s loads of pressure in high school to start thinking about your future. While most parents think that becoming a doctor, lawyer or accountant is the best game plan, times are changing.
Developing a scarce skill could be your ticket to a bright future.
The superpower of scarce skills
Scarce skills are skills that are in demand by employers – usually because there aren’t enough qualified professionals in that specific field. These skills make it easier for employees in a specific profession to find work.
Digital marketing is now a thing. Technological skills are in demand. And nowadays, it’s against the trend to be good at just one thing. Employers like ‘em employees multi-faceted.
Developing these types of skills will increase your employability and make you stand out of the crowd, because soft (interpersonal) skills and hard (technical) skills go hand-in-hand. Because, let’s face it, nobody wants to talk to the weird, hermit IT guy in the corner… You have to know how to deal with people and this could propel you into a career of your choice.
So which scarce skills are in demand?
- Software development – IT-related skills are by far the most sought after skills, not only in South Africa, but globally. Businesses want to stay competitive and developing user-friendly software is how they do that. This skill has remained the highest in-demand skill since the beginning of 2018.
- Networking and Information Security – keeping with the digital theme, being able to protect a business’ information system is huge. Hackers and cyber criminals are always on the prowl and if you can prevent them from getting into the network, you’re golden.
- Web Development – every company needs a website and someone to update it regularly. Web development is a rapidly growing sector.
- Sales – can you sell ice to an Eskimo? No business will be able to keep its doors open without money coming in. The sales figures are the make-or-break for a business. If you can’t sell, everything else is pointless. It’s a pretty valuable skill to have in your pocket.
- Financial Skills – money makes the world go round and we are constantly seeking ways to make our money work for us. Everyone is into BitCoin and other investments to make an extra buck or ten. It’s not only this side of finance but financial management of the business’ accounts and auditing are as important as investment management.
- Engineering – with most engineers choosing work outside of our country, we have big gaps in this sector. Engineering positions dominate the Department of Labour’s national scarce skills list, occupying the top three spots.
- Social Media – are we surprised that this is on the list? People are glued to their phones and strategic posting forms part of a business’ digital marketing plan. You know what they say – if it isn’t on Instagram, it didn’t happen
Youth employment: Get involved
Employers are seeking individuals with these scarce skills, so developing one or two of these skills will give you the power to motor your way to the top of a potential employee list. Youth employment in South Africa is at an all-time low so it is wise to devise a strategy to avoid unemployment. Developing a scarce skill means you are in demand and have a much better chance of snatching a job.
But along with the skills mentioned above, which we also call hard skills, you need a couple of soft skills to make the package complete. Employees seek individuals who already have these interpersonal skills as it will save them time, effort and money sending you on a course, so start working on these now. Soft skills in demand are:
- Management skills – employers need people who can take an idea and run with it, deal with a team even when it’s like herding cats and put out any fires using critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- Teamwork skills – being able to compromise for the good of a project instead of letting your ego lead you (into the ditch) is an important quality in an employee.
- Communication skills – practising your active listening skills is just as important as making yourself heard. Listen to understand, not just to reply, and speak to bring about understanding and not to pull rank or brag with know-how.
- Self-management skills – nobody likes to be micro-managed but if you are unable to manage yourself and your time, this is precisely what will happen. Most employers don’t have time to babysit – they want to give an order and leave it in (hopefully) capable hands.
Human beings are like onions. They’re layered. However, they smell a lot better. The point is that you need to have a diverse skill set to stand out and the good news is that these soft skills are things you can start practicing even now while you’re in high school. Start gearing your mind towards developing the more technical things in your tertiary studies – or in your school holidays if you’re one of those over-achievers. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.