Spot the growth sectors…

Career development should be a matter of pre-planning rather than chance. And forget the notion that career planning is something carried out once by matriculants and recent graduates. The pace of change – technological and societal – is such that career changes will occur periodically throughout your working life.

The secret of success, says The Focus Group, human capital management services expert, is to ensure that you have marketable skills in growth areas of the economy. This means you need to acquire the requisite academic, professional and industry qualifications and the relevant practical experience.

The Focus Group, based in Forest Town, is consulted by leading companies across the full commercial and industrial spectrum – from British Telecoms to Visa; from Nedbank to Astrazeneca. It is therefore well aware of current personnel needs and contemporary trends.

Says director of The Focus Group Leigh Ann Meinert: “In the past, the aim was to have a well rounded education. Today, it makes more sense to have a career direction in mind when completing your schooling.

“For example, IT and Telecommunications can be expected to become a major growth point. Some types of export manufacture can also expected to grow. Language skills are therefore important; so much the better if you have facility in languages spoken by countries which are major trading partners of South Africa or which have well developed tourist industries.

“So, work hard at your French and Portuguese lessons. Word-power in these languages could ultimately have a bearing on your earning-power.”

Expected growth sectors are tourism, leisure and hospitality, IT (mobile, cloud, big data, Ecommerce, telecommunications, biotechnology), healthcare and pharmaceuticals, financial services; and health and fitness.

The IT sector continues to be a prosperous industry. There is great demand for hardware technicians, programmers, local area and wide area network specialists, database management and data warehousing specialists, system analysts, sales and marketing staff with a technical background, web programmers and specialists in online security.

In the non-technical field, there is an enduring need for those with good office management skills, especially when typing speed is combined with a working knowledge of the major business software packages.

Likewise, good book-keepers with experience of the main accounting software packages are in demand.

There is also demand for highly qualified executives and specialists, including medical and health specialists, chartered accountants, actuaries and those with the MBA qualification or a legal and tax background in the commercial field.

Specialists in asset management, merchant and corporate banking, life assurance and financial product design, development and marketing will find a ready market for their skills.

The national strategy of export-led growth and official encouragement of job creation in manufacturing suggest continuing demand for job-seekers with technical and engineering qualifications. However, those who expect to reach senior positions in business are advised to follow up their engineering degrees and diplomas with post-graduate business qualifications.

Training, personal development and human resources are also expected to be growth areas – as indicated by the emphasis on continuous study and training. The Focus Group’s own phenomenal growth from a zero-base is further confirmation of this trend.

Leigh Ann Meinert adds: “Change is constant. Skills which were in demand in one decade might be obsolete a decade later. A prudent career-developer constantly adds to skills and experience.

“Take advantage of all training courses and personal development opportunities offered by your current employer. Study further for additional post-graduate qualifications. In some instances, a total change of career direction may be necessary – which increases the need for further study and new qualifications.

“You should never stop learning.”

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