Each year, Universum unveils the World’s Most Attractive Employers (WMAE). The 2020 ranking features a number of the biggest names and brands in the world.

Some of these companies also have offices right here, in South Africa. Imagine that! You can work for some of the world’s most desirable employers in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

How does Universum decide on the ranking?

For the 2020 WMAE, Universum – which is a global employer brand research firm – surveyed 235,273 business, engineering and IT students in the world’s 12 largest economies. The study was conducted from September 2019 to April 2020. The students were asked:

  • which employer characteristics are most influential as they consider future employment, and
  • which employer brands they most admire.

For a company to be considered for the WMAE, it must rank in the top 90% among the most attractive employers.

Who came out tops?

Among business students, Amazon won big. It was the biggest employer brand winner in 2020, climbing 7 spots to number 4 in just one year.

Deloitte cemented its reputation as a favourite with the same group of students and ranked at number 5. The top three spots went to Google, Apple and Microsoft.

These three tech giants also took the podium spots with engineering and IT students. The BMW Group and Amazon completed the top five positions.

The move to electric vehicles as well as battery and fuel-saving technologies have led to better performance for companies within the auto industry that are investing in these developments.

These companies include the BMW Group, Volkswagen and Daimler, all of whom did better than before in the 2020 WMAE.

Richard Mosley, Chief Strategy Officer at Universum, said “Students are increasingly choosing industries that drive global innovation. The technology industry is the obvious choice, but automotive and manufacturing are also making historic strides with AI, robotics and automation. Young people want to be part of companies and industries that are making the biggest impact on society and daily life.“

What companies are in South Africa?

Universum releases two global rankings, one based on the feedback from business students and another based on the survey results of engineering and IT students.

We’ll start by looking at the companies that appear on both lists and then go through the rest of the top 10 companies from both Global Business Ranking and the Global Engineering and IT Ranking that have locations in South Africa.

1. Google

Google has one office in South Africa which is located in Johannesburg. You can search the available jobs on the Google Careers portal.

2. Microsoft

This tech giant, best known for software products such as Microsoft Windows and the Microsoft Office suite as well as Internet Explorer, also has only one office in South Africa. Just like Google’s, this office is located in Johannesburg.

3. Amazon

Amazon opened its first office in South Africa back in 2004. Today Amazon has offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg. It has gone from strength to strength and announced 3,000 new work-from-home jobs in South Africa earlier this year.

Now let’s look the Global Business Ranking and Global Engineering and IT Ranking:

Global Business Ranking

1. Deloitte

Deloitte is a leading global provider of audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services. The firm has offices across four provinces and nine cities. If you want to move to Cape Town, you’ll be happy to hear that two offices are located in the Mother City.

2. Goldman Sachs

You’ll find Goldman Sachs in Johannesburg. This global firm has 88 offices worldwide and describes itself as a company that ‘provide a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and individuals’.

3. Ernest and Young (EY)

Ernest and Young provides consulting, assurance, tax and transaction services to their clients. The company prides itself on being ‘dedicated to helping organisations solve their toughest challenges and realise their great ambitions – from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies’.

This mission is carried out in nine offices across South Africa. These offices are located in Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Durban, East London, George, Johannesburg, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth and Stellenbosch.

4. Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC)

PwC offers assurance, advisory and tax services. These services cover areas such cybersecurity and privacy, human resources, deals and forensics. The company has firms in 157 countries with over 276,000 employees.

South Africa is of course one of those countries. PwC has 19 offices across eight of South Africa’s nine provinces. This number includes four satellite offices that are located in Lichtenburg, Middelburg, Pretoria and Secunda.

5. JP Morgan

JP Morgan is one of the world’s most prominent financial services firms and has offices in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. The company offers clients a wide range of financial products and services, including asset management.

6. L’Oréal Group

This giant in the beauty industry, established in France in 1909, has a manufacturing plant in Midrand, Johannesburg. This plant is responsible for the production of African Beauty Brands and select Garnier, L’Oreal Elvive and Mixa products that are exported throughout Africa.

7. McKinsey and Co

McKinsey and Co is a global management consulting firm that advises on strategic management to corporations, governments, and other organisations. The firm’s South African office in Johannesburg supports South African companies, facilitates upgrades to key institutions and infrastructure, and develop leaders.

Global Engineering and IT Ranking

1. BMW Group

Apart from its many dealerships and suppliers in South Africa, the BMW Group has also offices in Johannesburg and Pretoria. Johannesburg is home to the Group’s sales headquarters while its only manufacturing plant in the country is located in Pretoria.

The manufacturing plant, called Plant Rosslyn, is a world-class plant capable of producing customized cars. The sixth generation of the 3 Series is currently being produced at the plant.

2. IBM

IBM sells IT services, cloud and cognitive offerings, and enterprise systems and software. The corporation has two offices in South Africa – one in Cape Town and one in Johannesburg.

3. General Electric

General Electric has been operating in South Africa since 1898! Today, General Electric employs hundreds of people in businesses spanning across key sectors including power, aviation and healthcare in its Johannesburg office.

Most notably, GE South Africa is involved in the construction and management of the Medupi and Kusile power stations. GE South Africa has also donated and fully kitted the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital with healthcare equipment.

4. Volkswagen Group

The Volkswagen Group South Africa has a plant situated in Uitenhage, an industrial town in the Eastern Cape. The plant produces components for the entire Volkswagen group and manufactures the Polo and Cross Polo.

VWSA prides itself on its commitment to boost foreign direct investment in South African and promoting the transfer of world-class technology, knowledge and skills. Hundreds of VWSA employees at all levels have benefitted from training at Volkswagen plants throughout the world.

5. Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) is a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz AG and has been in South Africa for over 60 years.

MBSA’s headquarters, marketing and support divisions are located in Johannesburg. The company also has a manufacturing plant in East London that produces the C-Class Saloon for export to left and right-hand drive markets.

6. Toyota

Just like MBSA, Toyota has their head office in Johannesburg and a manufacturing plant elsewhere. In Toyota’s case, the plant is in Durban. Toyota also has a parts distribution centre that is located in Kempton Park in Johannesburg.

7. Ford

Global automotive company Ford has an assembly plant in Pretoria, with current products listed as the Ford Ranger and the Mazda BT-50, and an engine plant in Port Elizabeth. The Struandale Engine plant has an annual production capacity of 250,000 machined component kits, comprised of engine heads, blocks and crankshafts.

Want to work for a WMAE company in South Africa?

You’ll have to have a work visa. As a foreign national, you cannot work in South Africa without a valid work visa. The most popular work visas are the critical skills work visa and the general work visa. You’ll also be able to work in South Africa as the spouse or life partner of a South African with a work endorsement.

You can contact us directly on +27 (0) 21 424 2460 if you’d like assistance with a work visa. The first step is a free immigration assessment to see if you do in fact qualify for a work visa. If the outcome is positive, our team will advise on the best way forward and assist you with your visa application from start to finish.


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