By Charndré Emma Kippie


With the global pandemic reaching a third wave, South African businesses and recruitment agencies are forced to once again pivot, adjusting practices and outlooks to meet pending changes, and a growing need for constant technological innovation, required to keep the workforce going strong. 


 Sector Overview

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), South Africa witnessed an increase of 333 000 in the number of employed persons near the end of 2020. However, data collected also indicated a rise in the number of unemployed individuals, documenting that 701 000 individuals were without employment by the fourth quarter of 2020. 

These changes significantly impacted all major labour market rates. South Africa’s unemployment rate, thus, soared from 30,8% to 32,5% by the end of the year. This was the highest unemployment rate recorded since the start of the QLFS in 2008. The employment-to-population ratio also increased from 37,5% to 38,2%, and the labour force participation rate increased from 54,2% to 56,6% during this period, indicating that more people are participating in the labour market.

This meant that many were battling to find employment throughout the lockdown period, putting major pressure on recruitment and staffing entities who experienced major shifts in acquiring new skills and talent, retrenchment and organisational strategies geared towards weathering the storm. 

Despite a reasonable plummet in overall hiring activity throughout 2020, employment prospects are steadily improving for professionals in sectors such as: the business management, ICT and logistics sectors. 


 5 Ways Hiring & Employment is Changing 


Hybrid work model 2.0

Times are constantly changing, and if 2020 has taught us anything, remote working may be efficient, but employees miss the human element of the workforce. Hybrid employment terms and hub-and-spoke workspaces will be a major trend this year, as employers opt for smaller offices and permit employees to work remotely, allowing for flexibility. 


Innovative HR technology

The adoption of cloud-based HR technologies will be emphasised, in order to provide a better employee experience while working remotely. New HR Analytics Programmes may also assist in keeping employees motivated and productive. HR tech proves useful for virtual hiring, online learning and development, tracking performance and smart decision-making.


Remote interview processes

As companies learn to embrace remote working more and more, employers now rely on digital recruitment practices, such as Zoom and Google Meet interviews, as well as online skills tests. To sift through the massive talent pool, recruiters are learning to adopt new hiring technologies, such as AI and automation. This trend is set to continue, bettering hiring quality, requiring less time, and enhancing talent acquisition procedures. 


Reassessing required skill sets 

This year has taught us to pivot, compromise, and value the smaller steps taken forward. The same can be said for emerging jobs markets and skills development. Going forward, recruiters will be more invested in Soft Skills. These take the form of communication methods, collaboration, adaptability, and capacity for team-working and relationship-building. These skills will be looked for when evaluating applicants.


Performance analytics trends

A critical business aspect that has changed considerably this last year is performance management. Business entities are now measuring what matters: a focus on work completed efficiently and visions accomplished – it’s not about hours on the clock anymore. We will see performance reviews and continuous feedback happening more frequently. Talent analytics tools will also be used to gather new data on employees. 


Most In-demand Skills Being Scouted

  • Software development 
  • Middle/department management 
  • Representative/sales consulting 



Top 5 Divisions Requiring More Recruits

  • Information Technology
  • Business & Management
  • Finance
  • Sales 
  • Admin, Office & Support