Plumbers, electricians and builders are in huge demand in South Africa – here’s how much they earn

The demand for skilled craftsmen such as carpenters, toolmakers, mechanics, joiners or mechanics grown in South Africa despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, says Arjun Khoosal, co-founder of Kandua, an online marketplace for home services.

However, there is a scarcity of individuals trained and qualified to meet that demand, he said.

Referring to data from Manpower Group’s talent shortage survey and the national list of professions in high demandKhoosal said demand for these services is likely to grow due to their evergreen demand.

“This is a fairly cyclical market, especially for those craft businesses that serve homeowners or other small businesses. There will always be something broken that needs to be fixed, or features that need an upgrade ”.

“There has also been a clear upward trend in the home improvement industry since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Khoosal. “For example, the demand for renovators has doubled in the past year.”

Khoosal said Kandua has seen a 750% increase in demand for home services in the past year, with the most demand for:

  • Movers;
  • Carpenters;
  • Plumbers;
  • Renovators;
  • Debris removers;
  • Landscapers;
  • Handymen;
  • Panel knockers;
  • Welders;
  • Builders.

The vast majority of services on Kandua’s platform are provided by small businesses or independent contractors, Khoosal said.

Learning a trade is one of the easiest access points to self-employment and with the right support can ensure a stable income and a decent living.

“It is important to recognize that craft businesses have different development needs from other businesses, where market access is critical,” he said.

Trade and professional professions will also receive more attention over the next five years, as part of a new program from the Department of Higher Education and Training.

“There is a commitment to the implementation of a dual education and training system that will systematically integrate theoretical, practical and workplace learning into almost all vocational training offered in a TVET school, over the next 5 to 10 years,” he said in his 2021 / Annual performance plan 2022.

“The emergence of an integrated approach to vocational education has already been initiated through the Centers of Specialization, launched in 2018 on 26 college campuses in 13 professions, and will expand in the coming years.”

Salaries and opportunities

Due to the unregulated nature of South Africa’s trade, salaries can vary wildly depending on a person’s qualifications, experience and the job they will be performing.

Most professionals also charge an additional fee when called to a business or home for their services.

This is reflected in Payscale’s payroll data, where the average plumber’s salary ranges from a minimum of R69,000 – R338,000 per year.

“An early career plumber with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation (including tips, bonuses and overtime) of R94,333 based on 20 salaries,” the group said.

“A mid-career plumber with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of R159,000 based on 17 salaries. An experienced plumber with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of R195,500 based on 22 salaries. “

Payscale’s payroll data for other major occupations shows a similar trend, with employees earning significantly more based on their experience and qualifications.

  • Carpenters – R47,000 – R307,000 per year
  • Electricians – R26,000 – R414,000 per year
  • Welders – R41,000 – R358,000 per year
  • Panel Beaters – R66,000 – R350,000 per year

Data from Sable International in recent years shows that electricians in countries like South Africa earn between R37.02 and R153 per hour.

To be at the higher end of this scale, skills such as factory maintenance, switching and routing and automation are sure to boost wages.

When it comes to plumbers, they can earn between R20 and R117 per hour. While those who work in residential environments, power plants, factories and water treatment plants (known as master plumbers) generally earn more.

Trade jobs are also commonly found on occupational scarcity lists (SOLs) in other countries, including popular emigration destinations such as Australia and the United Kingdom.

When a job is with the SOL, individuals in these roles will more easily qualify for a skilled worker visa. While not a job security, a trade job can therefore be used as a foot in the door for South Africans looking to relocate abroad.

The UK SOL published at the end of 2020, contains a number of skilled professions, including:

  • Painters and decorators;
  • Floor and wall tiles;
  • Plasterers;
  • Construction and building crafts;
  • Glaziers;
  • Carpenters;
  • Plumbers;
  • Roofers;
  • Masons.

The critical list of skills for Australia also indicates a similar demand for trade, with the following jobs in demand:

  • Mason and stonemason;
  • Cabinet maker;
  • Carpenter and cabinetmaker;
  • Fibrous plasterer;
  • Glazier;
  • Painting merchant worker;
  • Plumber;
  • Wall and floor tiler.

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