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What is the best job?

By Carol Butcher – 

The Internet is awash with articles about the best jobs. Forbes cites data scientist, statistician and information security analyst as the top three jobs respectively in 2016. also cites data scientist as the top job in 2016.

While these may be the best jobs, the harsh reality is youth unemployment is at its highest levels ever globally. Thousands of young people worldwide would be only too happy to have a job, almost any job other than that of pest controller. CareerCast ranks pest controller the third worst job in 2016. Interestingly enough while newspaper reporter and broadcaster may seem glamorous, CareerCast ranks these and the worst and second worst job in 2016 respectively.

Job prospects are bleak young people worldwide in the short-term. According to statista, global youth unemployment is expected to remain at around 13.2% until 2019. The portal cites a youth unemployment rate of 50.4% for Greece, 43.9% for Spain, 36.9% for Portugal, and 13.2% for Great Britain in 2016. Statistics South Africa cites youth unemployment in South Africa at 26.6% for the second quarter (June 2016).

A far better indicator might be to ask: “Which jobs are most in demand since this will enhance employability. According to the Career Junction Index to June 2016, jobs high in demand include actuarial management, senior management, internal auditors, and IT professionals.

In 2015, the South cited sheep shearer, protein scientist, space weather specialist and bioinformatician as jobs in high demand. It is unlikely that many people will be clamouring for these positions. These positions are likely to remain good career prospects for a very long time.

For those choosing a career, a very practical question might be to ask: “What are the best-paying jobs?” After all, most young South Africans want a BMW, Merc, Audi or Maserati. According to Forbes, the best-paying jobs in America in 2016 are anaesthesiologist, surgeon, and oral and maxillofacial surgeon. However, in South Africa, according to Buzz South, the best paying jobs are chartered accountant, air traffic controller, actuary, management consultant, petroleum engineers, specialist doctors, IT managers, lawyers, pilots and software engineer.

Choosing a career is arguably one of the most important decisions any young South African will ever make. Interest, aptitude, and affordability are always important considerations. However, when one looks at the high levels of unemployment among university graduates and TVET college graduates, in particular, one cannot help but ask: “When choosing a career, did anyone look at Government’s occupations in high demand list, published every two years?” I suspect very few did.

Educators, parents, and mentors, we need to ensure that Government’s Scarce Skills List is the first port of call for young South Africans when choosing a career. Chances are many of us have never heard of some of the career options listed therein. Choosing one of these careers might be akin to owning the goose that lays the golden egg.

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Carol has nineteen years’ experience as a professional writer, editor and case study writer. Her writing experience includes a stint as the resident Case Study Writer at the Wits Business School.

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