Working in SA

Where you can work

  • The biggest industries are mining, machinery, metalworking, automobile assembly, textiles, chemicals, iron and steel.
  • Recent growth areas: South Africa has one of the fastest growing telecommunications industries in the world and the mobile phone industry is growing dramatically.
  • Industries that struggle: the global recession affected a number of sectors, including the automobile and mining industry.
  • Occupations where SA experience shortages: chartered accountants, insurance professionals, engineers, technicians, managers, auditors and consultants.
  • Major companies: De Beers, Dimension Data, Eskom, FirstRand, Metro Cash and Carry, Naspers, Sappi, South African Airways, The Standard Bank of South Africa and Telkom SA.

Where to search for more companies

  • Kompass South Africa – a worldwide business directory searchable by country and product/service
  • Yellow Pages – South Africa
  • South African chambers of commerce (for example, Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Johannesburg and Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry – search list of member companies).
  • Most jobs are in the metropolitan areas. South Africa’s major cities are Pretoria (administrative capital), Cape Town (legislative center), Bloemfontein (judicial center), Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth.

Working conditions

  • South African employment laws are very strict and protect employees against unfair treatment.
  • Average working hours will depend on the industry. Full time employment is typical a 40-hour week.
  • Holidays: 21 consecutive days (including weekends) plus 12 public holidays. Most companies close during December to mid January.
  • Taxes: South Africa follows a revenue-based income tax system. South African nationals pay tax on their worldwide earnings but those from other countries only pay on the income they earn in South Africa. An individual will need to pay tax in South Africa if they reside there for more than 183 days a year.
  • Working practices and customs: Every company establish their own codes of conduct and corporate culture. Business in South Africa generally revolves around establishing mutual trust.

Finding work

Jobs in SA, even for undergraduates are available for those willing to start at the bottom or initiate a new business venture. There are things you can do to improve your chances.

  • Significant experience is required for the skilled jobs in South Africa, it may be best to spend some time freelancing or volunteering.
  •  A variety of recruiting agencies will be able to assist you. Search for the ones that specialise in your field.
  • Spend time preparing a professional looking CV and portfolio of evidence that highlights your accomplishments and abilities.
  • Find experts to help you prepare for interviews. You should both look and sound like the perfect candidate to fit with the company.
  • South Africans put very high regard on friendship and loyalty. Use every opportunity to network to make valuable connections and allies.
  • Ask your college for industry connections and the help of your alma mater (previous students from your college might be willing to give you a foot in the door).