Skilled South Africans moving overseas

Harris Marley
Harris Marley

Global Courant
Picture: IOL

There has been a high rise in numbers with South African professionals leaving the country or applying to move abroad, causing a tremendous skills shortage.

William Gumede, a professor from Wits gave a warning in June, that South Africa’s skills exodus had become a crisis with professionals of all races, ages, and parts of the country leaving.

He has also emphasized that the country needs people with skills, ideas, and energy to turn the country around and increase economic growth. “When you strip a country of these key people, it seriously undermines it from an economic growth perspective,” he said.

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Due to that, South Africa’s critical skills list is ever-expanding to look for the skills the country is losing through emigration. The biggest problem is the country’s work visa system is in disarray, with long delays and inefficiencies making it very difficult for companies to import skills needed for economic growth.

The Department of Home Affairs revealed last year that it had amassed a backlog of over 60,000 visa applications that it was struggling to process. Mavuso Msimang, who is the former Home Affairs DG said the critical skills shortage in the country is one of the most significant blockages to economic growth.

He also mentioned that it was “really worrying” that the government was dragging its feet to address the issue. When comparing with other countries such as like Canada and the United Kingdom, it is easier and attractive for skilled South Africans to move abroad. As an example, Britain offers international relocation payments of £10,000 to foreign physics and language teachers to cover their visa and moving expenses.

Canada allows South Africans with no connections to the country and no job offer to apply for Permanent Residency. This means that South Africans can move to Canada based on factors such as age, education, English language abilities, and skilled work experience.

The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) mentioned that the critical shortage of skills is one of the key drivers behind the country’s collapsing infrastructure. It also revealed that the country had lost a shocking number of engineers in the civil sector over the last 20 years.

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One of the industries that are currently under a lot of strain, is the South African medical fraternity, resulting in understaffed public hospitals. Craig Comrie, the CEO of Profmed, said the substantial exit of medical professionals over the last three to five years created tremendous skills shortages.

Apart from the immediate problems, it also hurts South Africa’s ability to produce quality medical specialists as there are fewer opportunities for specialised training.

Skilled South Africans moving overseas

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