According to the Government, there is a critical skills shortage in our country. There has been much debate about the list that was published in the Government Gazette on the 3rd of June 2014.

The publication of this list holds great intrigue because the Government urgently seeks foreigners to fill these positions. This has sparked extensive discussions among South African citizens, especially those residing abroad. But what prompts this curiosity?

The Dilemma for South African Citizens

Let’s contemplate a scenario where a South African citizen, residing in South Africa, qualifies for one of the critical skills listed but is not currently employed in that specific field. People seemingly encounter difficulties securing jobs in their respective fields, or they discover that the offered salaries are unsustainable in today’s economic climate. Consequently, these individuals often pursue alternative career paths in their employment journey. Additionally, many people have emigrated to other countries for various reasons, such as the higher earning potential for their skills abroad. Some may have initially struggled to find employment in their field upon relocation but now wish to return home. Is it due to a lack of opportunities in their field or did BEE policy play a role?

Data Deficiency and Emigration

Collecting precise data became challenging when Statistics South Africa ceased data collection a few years ago. Thus, pinpointing the exact number of South Africans living abroad and whether this contributes to the current skills shortage on the recently published list proves difficult. In 2012, the Organisation of Economic Co-Operation and Development estimated that there were approximately 588,388 South African immigrants aged 15 or older residing in other OECD Countries. Unsurprisingly, the highest numbers settled in the UK, Australia, the United States, New Zealand, and Canada.

However, it’s worth considering another study released in 2014 by Adcorp, indicating that roughly 350,000 “high-skilled” citizens returned home following the global financial crisis of 2008-9. Have these individuals successfully secured employment in their preferred fields? Another pertinent question arises: why does the Government seek to encourage foreigners to fill these positions when many eligible South Africans are available?

The New Critical Skills Visa List of Shortage Occupations can be read here…
Your Thoughts?