South African employers have reported cautiously optimistic hiring intentions for the upcoming quarter, with 10% of those polled in a recent study expecting to increase staffing levels, 5% forecasting a decrease in employee numbers and 85% anticipating no change to their current payrolls through to the end of the year.

Hiring intentions remained relatively stable when compared with the previous quarter, improving by 3 percentage points year-over-year, the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey Q4 2014, which surveyed 752 employers in South Africa, showed.

Providing insight into why the South African employment market was expected to provide limited opportunities for job seekers, recruitment specialist Manpower South Africa MD Lyndy van den Barselaar said ongoing socioeconomic challenges had continued to influence the performance of key sectors within the economy, impacting on employment prospects.
“In addition, economic growth forecast uncertainty has also influenced employers to slow down their hiring intentions – specifically after the World Bank cut South Africa’s growth forecast for 2014 and 2015,” she commented.

Looking at regional comparisons, the survey indicated that payroll gains were expected throughout the country in the fourth quarter of the year.

Western Cape-based employers expected the strongest hiring climate, reporting a net employment outlook of 13%, while some hiring opportunities were forecast in Gauteng, at 6%, and in the Eastern Cape, with an outlook of 4%.

Marginal job gains were expected in both the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, where employers reported outlooks of 3%.

Hiring intentions, meanwhile, weakened in four of the five regions when compared with the third quarter, with outlooks declining by 8 percentage points in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, while decreases of 3 percentage points were reported in the Free State and Eastern Cape.
Western Cape employers reported relatively stable hiring plans.

“The provincial government of the Western Cape has facilitated for economic growth and, therefore, job creation, through several initiatives, such as The Cape Information Technology (IT) Initiative, the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership and Green Cape.
“The province’s economy is service-based, rather than resource-based and, in conjunction with the Economic Development Partnership, is focused on developing a five-year economic strategy for the departments of agriculture, economic development and tourism. We believe the effort is very promising and will facilitate job creation in the province,” Van den Barselaar said.

Year-on-year, Western Cape employers reported a 3-percentage-point improvement in hiring plans; however, the outlook for the Eastern Cape declined by 3 percentage points.

Elsewhere, hiring prospects remained relatively stable in the Free State and Gauteng, while KwaZulu-Natal employers reported no change.

Employers in all industry sectors anticipated an increase in staffing levels in the next three months, with the most optimistic hiring plans reported in the agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing sector, with a net employment outlook of 12%.

Employers reported encouraging signs for job seekers in the transport, storage and communication sector and the mining and quarrying sector, with outlooks standing at 7% and 6%, respectively.

Meanwhile, outlooks of 5% were reported in four sectors – the construction sector, the electricity, gas and water supply sector, the restaurants and hotels sector and the wholesale and retail trade sector.

“The expected growth in the agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing sector is largely owing to increased tourist spend, especially in game hunting.

“The current growth in the country’s IT sector is a main contributing factor to the growth in the transport, storage and communications sector, as is the increase in transport between South Africa and the other countries in the region,” she outlined.

Quarter-on-quarter, hiring prospects weakened in nine of the ten industry sectors, with the most noteworthy decrease of 12 percentage points reported in the public and social sector.
Employers reported declines of 7 percentage points in the mining and quarrying sector, the restaurants and hotels sector and the wholesale and retail trade sector, while outlooks were 6 percentage points weaker in both the construction sector and the finance, insurance, real estate and business services sector.

“South Africa’s net employment outlook of 7% reflects cautiously optimistic hiring intentions for the last quarter of the year. It is imperative that provincial government continues to work with the private sector to face socioeconomic challenges and support employment through skills training and support for small, medium-sized and macroenterprises,” concluded Van den Barselaar.