Published: 2008-12-17

Employer Branding Specialist, Magnet Communications conducts an annual nationwide student survey to identify who students rank as their ideal employer. This year, the results represent the views of 19 000 students at 23 tertiary institutions across South Africa.

The survey is independent and the company listing of 130 companies is generated by the students themselves, based on their perceptions of their future employers. As companies continue to compete for scarce skills, and develop recruitment strategies to appeal to job hopping Generation Y, the survey gives employers an indication of the effectiveness of their recruitment strategies and the values which will also retain talent.

The results are divided into the ideal employers in four areas of study - Commerce, Engineering and Technology, Science and Health Care; and Humanities and Law - but also include the ideal employers in fifteen industries. This is especially interesting since companies across industries now vie for the same pool of talent.

Commerce students rank Absa as their ideal employer. Absa is also the ideal employer in Commercial and Private Banking. "We obviously need people that are vey intelligent and highly numerate; we expect huge commitment but in return we offer graduates many opportunities," says Nicole Ciolli, Associate Principal in HR at Absa Capital. One of these opportunities is a trip to Barclays Capital, London to gives students a diverse focus. She mentions that Absa Capital has benefitted from the positive word of mouth as a result of these initiatives.

Amongst engineering students and in the Public Service industry we see Eskom dominate the rankings. Sonto Mujakachi, Internal Communications Manager at Eskom mentions that this is as a result of Eskom's culture, "Companies around the world are competing for critical skills, appealing leaders and excellent managers. It is therefore important to position one's reputation as an employer of choice because people are seeking employment from companies that reward fairly, offer equal opportunities and care about the well-being of employees."

Sasol tops the rankings amongst students in Science and in the Chemical and Petroleum industry. Jacques Gouws, Manager in the Office of Executive Director at Sasol attributes this to the company's reputation and says: "Success breeds success and top talent are attracted to successful companies." Gouws mentions unique values that make Sasol attractive. These values not only attract top talent but also retain existing staff.

Despite media reports regarding its board, the SABC is an ideal employer for students in Humanities because of the range of career opportunities it offers. Interestingly a top career goal for students in Humanities is to be dedicated to a greater cause. The national broadcaster seemed to effectively cater to these students who prove particularly socially aware.

The ideal employer in the corporate auditing/taxation/accounting industry is KPMG. The firm dominates the rankings with Eric Van Gils, Associate Director of Recruitment and Global Opportunities attributing their win to the firm "getting it right internally" before trying to sell to potential talent. The firm launches a new SMS application process, appealing to the technologically savvy Generation Y who "live on their cell phones", according to Van Gils.

Pfizer is the ideal employer in the Pharmaceutical industry, Kholiswa Lekalale, Employer Branding Specialist and E-marketing Manager at Pfizer, mentions that this year the pharmaceutical giant has "increased its visibility" by having a more effective online presence and participating in various surveys, but mentions that the company has benefitted by profiling individuals throughout the organisation, and using them to represent their employer brand.

Anglo Platinum is the ideal employer in the Mining industry. Anglo Platinum's Joe Palo mentions that this position has a lot to do with its bursary programmes. Anglo Platinum's bursars act as ambassadors for its employer brand, meaning that the organisation has an all year round campus presence not simply during Career Fairs. Palo sees this as an important move since, "the (talent) pool is very small and there are many fishermen".

The Department of Foreign Affairs is the most popular governmental organisation, with Coca Cola SA being the most popular employer in the Consumer Goods industry. Jonathan Muthige, Director of Coca Cola SA feels that this is due to the Coke product brand. "Most people love the brand; they love what they see the company doing. Most graduates want to be part of the magic," says Muthige. Vodacom also owe their success in the Telecommunications industry to a strong product brand according to Managing Executive of Rewards and Benefits at Vodacom, Bernard Nkomo: "This strength is not perceived as a difficulty but an advantage as it makes it easier to shape and introduce Vodacom as a prospective employer."

Winners in other industries include Investec in Investment Banking, Murray & Roberts in Construction, Woolworths in Retail/Fashion, BMW South Africa in the Automotive industry, and Old Mutual in Insurance.

For any further information contact Sean Samson, sub-editor at Magnet Communications.

Tel: 021 422 4822

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