25% of job ads scrapped in SA in 6 weeks – but some skills are now in hot demand

Business Insider SA
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  • The coronavirus crisis has resulted in sharp declines in online job ads, with companies scrapping thousands of positions.  
  • The property sector, as well as hospitality, catering and cleaning services have seen the worst declines. 
  • But there has been a sharp rise in the demand for social workers and scientists.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page.

A quarter of all South African jobs that were advertised online have been scrapped over the past six weeks as the coronavirus crisis took hold, according to a new report compiled by Adzuna, an online job aggregator.

Virtually all vacancies for cleaning jobs have disappeared as the national lockdown confined households to their residences.

More than 60% of the positions in the property sector have been scrapped, with the real estate sector one of the worst hit by the coronavirus crisis.

The estate agency Pam Golding was one of the first big SA companies that cut salaries at the start of the lockdown.   

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that fears around the magnitude and endurance of the virus have led some sellers to take their homes off the market. From the buyers’ perspective, restrictions on human movement and 'avoidance behaviour' in general have reduced the number of buyer enquiries," says Siphamandla Mkhwanazi, FNB Property Economist. “We expect mass job losses and heightened uncertainty to result in a sharp drop in transaction volumes, as buyers delay their purchasing decisions.”

Many positions in the hospitality and catering sector were wiped out, with 57% of advertised vacancies cancelled. Pubs and restaurants have been hit hard by limited trading, even before lockdown.

These were the industries which saw the worst declines in online vacancies in the past six weeks:

Source: Adzuna

Jesse Green, country manager for Adzuna South Africa, says manufacturing jobs have been slashed by just over 33% since the start of 2020.

“Big players that do not form part of the essential services category have been forced to down tools and manufacturers in SA have pleaded with the government to help limit the damage caused by the lockdown. Right now, it looks like the sector will have to rely on the 825 positions in manufacturing available in the country to keep the industry afloat during these uncertain times,” Green said.

But some categories saw strong growth in advertised positions online.

In just six weeks, there was a 60% increase in the vacancies for social workers, presumably as part of government’s plan to recruit hundreds of social workers to help families affected by the lockdown.

There were also strong gains in maintenance jobs (+43%), as well as science-related positions (+13%) and in the energy sector (+18%)

The number of part-time jobs (across all sectors) grew by almost 60%.

Adzuna, which is headquartered in the UK, compiles online jobs data for a number of countries and found South Africa was in the mid-range of vacancy losses. The US, Russia and New Zealand were worst hit:

Source: Adzuna

“While a lot of employers have had to let staff go as a result of the national lockdown, things aren’t going to recover overnight. In fact, it might take months, if not years, for the South African job market (and the economy as a whole) to recover from this,” Green warned.

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