SAGEA Development Insights Survey 2019 with black and white coastal landscape

Highlights: SAGEA Development Insights Survey 2019

The leading graduate employers are investing heavily in the development of early talent, yet challenges still remain.

Results from an independent survey of leading employers in South Africa shows that these organisations are focused on developing graduates into future leaders of the business or to help fill skills shortages. The SAGEA Development Insights Survey 2019 is based on responses from 72 of the leading graduate employers in the country. It provides encouraging news for students leaving university, as the investment and commitment to graduate development remains extremely high.

While employers received thousands of applications, many have commented that there is often a shortage of candidates with the right skills and qualifications. Organisations have implemented graduate programmes to combat this issue and help ensure their businesses have the right talent now and are able to build a secure pipeline of future leaders.

Highlights from The SAGEA Development Insights Survey 2019 include:

  • Each organisation was asked to confirm which competencies and qualities they were particularly focused on developing in their graduates. Almost all had a focus on critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration and adaptability. The vast majority wanted their graduates to display initiative, leadership skills and have a social and cultural awareness.
  •  A wide range of learning interventions are being used to build talent with classroom learning, mentoring and experiential learning remaining the most popular.
  • Two-thirds of employers in this year’s survey stated that they use psychometric or behavioural assessments to support the graduate development programme, with a particular focus on learning agility and cognitive skills.
  • Four-fifths of employers offer some form of rotation or secondment within their programmes. Rotations are often used as a way to build cross-functional skills or as part of a global talent plan.
  • Mentorship programmes play a large role in building and shaping talent in South Africa.
  • More than half of employers provide training courses for their managers on how to manage graduates. Employers in the accountancy, consulting and investment banking industries were the most likely to offer these courses.
  • The median development cost per graduate is R46,500 per year.
  • Two-thirds are concerned by retention: specifically retaining scarce skills or equity targets. Nearly half were worried about keeping the best talent sufficiently engaged so they remain with the business, while two-fifths had resource constraints to deal with – either team resources or budget.
  • With most programmes being two years in duration, employers are managing to retain 7 out of 10 of their entry level graduates.

Executive Director for SAGEA, Cathy Sims commented:

“The leading employers are showing clear intention to have graduates play a defining role in their organisations. By recruiting for potential, and helping to hone the skills and abilities of these graduates, employers hope to successfully groom the future leaders of their business. However competition for the best candidates remains very high and finding suitable students for technical roles continues to be particularly challenging – as a result, many development programmes are devoted to up-skilling individuals for those hard to fill roles that require in-demand skills.

The very best graduates are likely to have multiple job offers from which to choose, so employers place a great deal of emphasis on having an attractive training and development programme. On the whole, employers remain optimistic about graduate development. While there continue to be challenges in retaining scare skills most feel they have a great deal of support, all the way from the CEO and leadership teams through to those who are managing the day to day activities of new graduates.”