SAGEA Employer Vacancies Update 2021 shows double-digit increase expected in graduate opportunities for 2022

The impact of the Coronavirus crisis and the widespread economic turmoil it has created invariably led to considerable change in the graduate job market. Youth unemployment rates have reached alarming levels since March 2020, and The SAGEA Employer Benchmark Survey 2021, showed that leading employers were being inundated as candidates submitted panicked applications.

Conducted in April/May 2021, this survey also highlighted the fact that – while employers had to reassess their recruitment needs and approach in response to the pandemic – they nonetheless continued to recruit healthy numbers of graduates. Many employers were not in a position to confirm their 2022 vacancies for The SAGEA Employer Benchmark Survey 2021, however, and so The SAGEA Employer Vacancies Update 2021 was commissioned.

It took place in August 2021 via a short survey and examined the graduate vacancies that employers were recruiting for during the current year, compared to the year ahead. Employers were asked to state the number of vacancies that they had for start dates in 2021, and to provide the number of graduates who would be recruited – as part of the 2021 process – to start work in 2022.

The survey shows that, even with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, employers aim to increase the number of early talent positions in their organisations – good news for graduates who may have been worrying about their career prospects!

In fact, graduate vacancies amongst the leading employers in South Africa are set to increase by 14.3 per cent for 2022. This is the second highest increase in the past decade and puts vacancy levels in 2022 at their highest since The SAGEA Employer Benchmark Survey was started in 2007.

The accounting and professional services firms remain the largest recruiters, with nearly half of all vacancies in 2022 reported by employers in this industry. They are followed by employers in banking and finance organisations, engineering or mining companies, and retailers.

IT or ICT roles, as well as investment banking, business analysts, legal and several consulting or engineering functions, also have sizeable numbers of vacancies to fill in 2022. Amongst the employers who took part in the research, the number of roles on offer in retail banking, technology consulting and mining engineering are set to double for 2022.

Executive Director for SAGEA, Cathy Sims commented:

“It is indeed very good news in that we can now confidently say that we anticipate a double-digit increase in demand for graduate talent with South Africa’s leading employers – something we haven’t seen since 2017! While times remain uncertain for students, it’s clear to us that graduate employers continue to recognise the value of hiring and developing high-calibre graduates. Their commitment to building talent in their organisations hasn’t wavered.

Of course, competition for these roles remains tough and it can be extremely stressful for students, but candidates who start early and focus their job hunt are much more likely to end up with good opportunities from which to choose. As employers reflect on lessons learned about virtual recruitment and selection methods, and develop approaches that make sense in the post-pandemic era, we are encouraged to see organisations being bullish about young talent.”