Spotlight on SME employment trends in South Africa

By: Paul Byrne, Head of Data Insights & Customer Success at Pnet

Paul Byrne

SMEs play a crucial role in most economies, and South Africa is no exception. They are also important contributors to job creation and global economic development. According to the World Bank Group, SMEs represent about 90% of businesses worldwide, while the International Finance Corporation revealed that roughly 50% to 60% of South Africa’s workforce finds employment within SMEs.

“A key challenge SMEs face is finding employees who are a good fit for their business and who have the skills required to increase efficiency and business growth,” says Paul Byrne, Head of Data Insights & Customer Success at Pnet.

“Pnet researched the recruitment needs of SMEs over 12 months (Q2:2022 to Q2:2023) and the findings revealed that Finance skills fall within the top five most in-demand skills, alongside skills in Business & Management, Sales, Admin, Office & Support and IT for SMEs.”

Pnet’s research also revealed the top three in-demand roles in the SME sector during the same period, namely Sales Representatives, Accountants and Software Developers. Within the Finance Sector specifically, the most in-demand professionals over the 12-month period were Financial Accountants.

“When comparing hiring activity between September, October and November 2023 with the previous three months (June, July, August 2023), Pnet’s findings revealed that hiring activity for Finance professionals (Bookkeeping, Payroll & Wages and Financial/Project Accounting) had increased by 3%,” says Byrne.

A study on “Factors Affecting Small and Medium Enterprises’ Financial Sustainability in South Africa” published in December 2021 emphasised the importance of accounting skills within SMEs: “It was found that financial awareness, budgeting and accounting skills… have positive and significant effects on the financial sustainability of SMEs.”

Despite the need to attract and retain skilled talent, SMEs often face various recruitment challenges, such as time-to-hire and the hefty price tag often associated with sourcing suitable candidates.

How SMEs can become more efficient in their recruiting processes

Specialised online recruitment platforms offer SMEs a range of benefits to help them save both time and money during the hiring process, and to find the right candidates for their vacancies – ultimately driving business success.

Reducing time-to-hire

Sourcing candidates directly using job-matching technology streamlines the hiring process so that SMEs can quickly and directly reach more jobseekers. SMEs can advertise their vacancies directly to active jobseekers, or tap into a database of professional candidates. Sophisticated platforms like Pnet’s online recruitment portal offer a host of easy-to-use tools and features to easily filter and shortlist suitable Finance candidates from their database of over six million jobseekers. What’s more, recruiters’ job ads get further reach from the 100 million Job Alerts that Pnet sends directly to jobseekers’ inboxes every month.

Reducing recruitment costs

By going directly to the source of suitable candidates using specialised recruitment platforms like Pnet, SMEs can save up to 60% on their recruitment costs. Pnet’s online recruitment platform uses advanced algorithms and analytics to target job advertisements to the most relevant candidates. This enables recruiters to find quality candidates using locally relevant filters, and even creates a talent pool to access when they need to hire for similar roles in the future.

Built-for-purpose online recruitment platforms are emerging as powerful tools to help SMEs find the right candidates for their vacant roles, thereby boosting their competitiveness in the market. In fact, these platforms have become a gamechanger for companies of all sizes, allowing them to flourish by attracting and retaining their most important asset – people.

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