Graduates with in-demand skills can have high earning potential and flexibility, says Johann van Niekerk, chief executive officer for Africa at global talent agency Outsized.
According to the company’s latest report on skills demand in Africa and Asia, the financial sector alongside the insurance sector saw global interest in South Africans.
Van Niekerk said that while young people no longer want a lifelong career with one employer, companies are also increasingly looking for expertise and skills as and when they need it. “This means there are more options for professionals to choose what work they do, when they do it, and even where they do it,” he said.
Outsized’s Talent On-Demand Report 2022 indicates that the top 10 most in-demand skills in Africa this year are in the areas of:
- data analysis;
- legal and regulatory;
- Program evaluation;
- Company Information;
- Quantitative analysis;
- Marketing research;
- Accounting, and;
- Business analytics.
Van Niekerk said Outsized has seen specific growth in project-related skills (23%) such as project and program managers, a 20% growth in demand for strategy consultants, an 18% growth in demand for financial services-focused functions such as quants , actuaries and financial risk specialists – and a 17% increase in demand for technical and data-related roles such as data analytics and data architects.
He said that on his platform, the typical daily rate for South Africans with these skills in the Middle East or Southeast Asia is between R5,000 ($350) and R7,500 ($450). However, the salaries depend on the years of experience.
Van Niekerk noted that professionals typically have at least seven to 10 years of experience before becoming valuable as a freelance resource and taking the plunge into the world of freelance work and consulting.
Young professionals should start planning early if they want to have the opportunity to work flexibly later, according to the talent specialist.
“If you’re going somewhere and thinking about building a professional career with flexibility and choice, you need to have this on your radar as early as possible. Build your experience strategically by taking on a range of projects and challenges.”
Van Niekerk said that freelancers are entrepreneurs, so you need to learn skills like time management, sales and marketing if you want to work freelance.
When to switch?
Before making the jump to freelancing, Van Niekerk said graduates should be in permanent employment for at least a few years, learn, and gain as much experience and maturity as possible.
He said that spending time in formal employment also builds credibility and is an important opportunity to save money. “The freedom you get as a freelancer comes at a price, because your income can be erratic,” warned Van Niekerk.
“This means that your ability to accommodate financial variability is also important. If you are preparing to become a freelancer, you must have a financial cushion. For example, if you could save 20% of your income, you will have saved an annual income after five years, which makes the switch easier.”
He also recommended seeking a longer-term contract as a first step into freelance work, to gain some stability initially.
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