A Guide on Working in South Africa

Since the abolition of apartheid, South Africa’s trading relations have gone from strength to strength, resulting in a strong economy which, whilst it has suffered much as the rest of the world, particularly through strikes, remains attractive to investors looking towards the South African industry.

The main industry sectors to aim for if you want to work in South Africa are engineering, IT and communications, mining (although growth here is slowing), banking and the car industry.

The best areas to head for if you are looking for skilled work are the cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Durban, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth.

An industry which has seen a huge growth spurt in South Africa recently is the mobile phone industry so if you have experience in this field you may well find yourself in with a chance.

Those areas experiencing critical skilled shortages are financial (particularly accountants), insurance, auditors and consultants.

Unemployment in SA

It is hard to measure unemployment in South Africa and indeed the topic is subject of much debate with pessimistic figures showing almost half of all young South Africans without a job whilst labour analysts in South Africa itself have agreed on a much more agreeable statistic of around 11.3% without work, largely due to what it calls “informal sector jobs”. But whichever figure is right, in order to stand a chance of getting a job in this country you need to do your research.

Major Companies in South Africa

You will need a firm job offer before you can apply to live and work in South Africa so here are some of the main employers in SA:

– De Beers
– Metro Cash and Carry
– South African Airways
– Dimension Data
– FirstRand
– Eskom
– Standard Bank of South Africa
– Telkom SA
– Sappi

Wikipedia has a complete list of large companies in South Africa.

Skilled Workers

There is a chronic shortage of skilled workers in South Africa as many university leavers are deserting their country to seek opportunities elsewhere. This leaves the field wide open for expats.

Adcorp, a recruitment website, estimate that there are around 829 800 unfilled positions available for such highly skilled workers and these might well be filled by applicants from abroad.

Workplace Rights in South Africa

South Africa may have made headlines for the number of mining strikes recently but their working rights have improved enormously. Workplace disputes can be solved by the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration

A full guide to workplace law and your rights is contained on the CCMA website.

Working Practices

Generally the working week is 40 hours in a five day week depending on the industry. 21 days are given for leave including 12 public holidays.

Dress is smart and networking is essential to get along. Those who are used to working at a fast pace however may find the relaxed attitude takes a little getting used to.