New survey reveals growing war for talent in Africa

A growing war for talent is emerging in Africa as some 70% of African firms surveyed by professional services firm EY are recruiting to support their growth ambitions on the continent, yet vacancies are taking longer to fill and there is higher employee turnover across Africa.

These are among the key findings of the second edition of EY’s Sub-Saharan Africa Talent Trends and Practices Survey.

The survey has found that technical and professional skills in particular are in demand, with over a third of those surveyed saying that their demand for technical and professional skills was expected to grow over the next 12 months.

Over 300 companies across 23 African countries, representing over 400,000 employees participated in the survey, giving a unique and comprehensive view of human resource trends across the continent.

At the same time as competition for talent is increasing in Africa, the labour market is not expected to get any easier. Three-quarters of companies expect labour market regulation to increase, while at the same time only a third of organisations find labour market institutions to be effective. Nearly two-thirds of respondents across the continent believe that trade unionism or collective employee action is increasing in their country.

“Greater competition for skills means that organisations need to be more deliberate in how they plan for, attract and retain staff,” said David Storey, EY’s People and Organisation Change Leader for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa. “Interestingly, we’ve found that pay is not the primary factor for attracting talent, but employer brand. Providing valuable learning and development opportunities is cited as the most important factor for retaining talent by our survey participants.”

The survey found that less than half of all companies have a formal performance management process in place, and less than a quarter of companies across Africa use a remuneration committee to govern employee pay.

“Overall our survey has found that while a majority of organisations see key talent management practices (such as leadership development programmes, succession planning and defined career ladders) as being important in their quest to attract and retain the best talent, they often lack the capacity to implement them,” added Storey.