Amid the country’s rising unemployment rate, 83% of South African CEOs are confident about their company’s prospects for revenue growth over the next year, which will result in an increase in headcount.
In its eighth South African edition of the yearly Global CEO Survey, financial services firm PwC revealed that about 58% of CEOs were expecting to increase their headcount in the year ahead, while 14% were looking to make cuts.
Thirty-six South African CEOs from listed, private and public companies participated in the survey.
Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, PwC Southern Africa CEO Dion Shango noted that while it was positive that local CEOs expected to increase their headcount and that CEOs were promoting talent, diversity and inclusiveness, “this does have a bit of a sting in its tail, because with this plan for increased headcounts, CEOs are looking for a very particular set of skills that they want to employ”.
The availability of key skills also ranked highest on local CEOs’ most significant business concerns, at 89%, on par with the prior year’s results.
“It is not just anybody that will have opportunities to be employed,” he pointed out, noting that CEOs would be looking to hire people with the “type of skills that cannot be automated and are not easily teachable”.
Further, Shango noted that it was “not very common to see” the skill sets mentioned by the surveyed CEOs, which included emotional intelligence, adaptability, problem solving and leadership.
He suggested that increased investment in, and building better, public-private partnerships, would, in turn result in greater investment in training, development and education producing “the type of citizens that will be able to address such attributes”.
Further, Shango said that, of the “threats and opportunities keeping South African CEOs awake at night”, unemployment ranked second among the most pressing macro threats, at 83%, behind exchange rate volatility at 92%.
Despite surveyed CEOs’ intentions to add to their headcount, CEOs’ sentiment regarding unemployment remained unchanged year-on-year. This, Shango explained, was backed by the rising unemployment rate.
LOOKING FOR GROWTH
The survey highlighted that CEOs would be working hard to drive growth and profitability this year, with organic growth topping CEOs’ planned activities in the coming months by 83%, compared with 79% globally.
Shango underlined that there was certainly a lower appetite for mergers and acquisitions.
Just over one-third, or 33%, of South African CEOs are very confident of their company’s own growth in the next year, four points down on last year, and four points below this year’s global average of 38%.
Further, only 19% expect global economic growth to improve in the next year, ten points below the global average.
The survey further revealed that South African CEOs viewed China, the UK, the US and India as the most important countries for their organisation’s overall growth prospects.