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How do we ensure a long-term supply of skilled labour in the South African labour market?

The skills shortage in South Africa is a recurring topic, not only in the financial sector but in most other industries in South Africa.

A central issue in organisations today is focusing on gaining a competitive advantage through their human capital. The best way organisations can do this is by ensuring a supply of financially skilled labour to the South African workforce. In today’s business environment, human resources are fundamentally the most important resources within an organisation. We continuously see the need for simple talent management amongst employees due to the shortages of skills, as well as the declining birth rates in most advanced economies that will negatively impact the growing shortage of labour and skills in the finance sector. The increasing shortage of skills combined with a generation of workers focused on employability rather than employment have been the channel for a shift away from the traditional employer, employee relationship. There is not enough attention placed on training, developing and managing talent within organisations and it has become a need to ensure the supply of talented individuals.

How do we ensure a long-term supply of skilled labour in the South African Labour Market in general and the financial sector in particular?

Many researchers have studied and identified the lack and importance of human resource training, development and talent management. Talent management is becoming increasingly more important because of changes in the demand for certain occupations and jobs, skill requirements, the anticipated retirement of the baby boomer generation and the need to develop managerial talent with leadership skills especially in the financial sector. There is a skill shortage crisis coming. Accounting and financial skills are in particularly short supply. The report stated that the standard corporate resource over the next 20 years will be talent, also due to identified demographic changes; talent will become increasingly difficult to find. This is why organisations need to ensure the long term supply of skilled labour.

Along with ensuring a long term supply of skilled labour, employees also need to be motivated to stay within an organisation and develop their skills. Motivation is the engine for driving human resource management. Organisations and managers must motivate their employees in order to ensure their willingness to learn. Thus it becomes a simultaneous project where organisations need to train, develop, motivate and manage their employees in order to prepare them for the possibility of a higher position. In the current labour market, there is an eagerness to go out and search for development, when employees should have the opportunity to be trained and developed further at their current location. This becomes a vicious cycle, where employees are constantly searching for the personal development they crave and organisations are continuously looking for talented individuals. Not only does this negatively impact the organisation, it also impacts the individual. Organisations need to focus on developing talent as well as retaining it.

As a result of the organisations focus on gaining a competitive advantage, the human resource function has the potential to assume an increasingly critical and dynamic role in generating a sustainable competitive advantage through its people. This occurs when the organisation focuses on the development of diverse policies, practices and systems to attract retain and develop these key resources.

Firstly, in order to ensure a long term supply of skilled labour in the financial sector in the South African market, the organisation must have the desire to employ and develop talented individuals. The human resource strategy is a process that identifies current and future human resource needs for an organisation to achieve its goals and objectives. The HR strategy should form a link between the actual Human Resource function and the organisations strategy. It must be a priority for the organisation to focus on their employees’ well-being. As an organisation, the focus should be on talent management.

The organisations focus should be on gaining a competitive advantage. Managing talented finance professionals effectively will undeniably create a human resource competitive advantage. In order to manage training effectively, the organisations goals and objectives need to include strategies that will enhance human performance resulting in organisations abundance in talented individuals.

The two main strategies an organisation can implement when focusing on talent management is retention and employee development. In addition to exercising human capital as a competitive advantage, naturally retaining the talented employees would be an obvious objective for an organisation. Holding on to talented employees is not an easy task and financial organisations often realise too late that their retention strategy is not effective. There are many strategies, however it does not seem as though organisations effectively implement them. Retention can be as simple as implementing, mentoring and coaching programs; compensating and providing recognition for employees that perform outstandingly. One of the key factors in retention is motivation. Motivated employees have a higher sense of loyalty to their motivators, resulting in a higher retention rate in the organisation.

The identified lack and importance of human resource training, development and talent management proves that many researchers have acknowledged the problem regarding the lack of talent management in the financial sector; now it’s just up to the individuals and the organisations to implement the tried and tested solutions. The various methods which provide solutions to the talent crisis have been approached and explored, over and above that, there are a countless number of additional solutions.

If your current work place is not giving you the development opportunities you deserve, feel free to browse jobs for finance professionals in Cape Town and Johannesburg here.