The biggest reason why skilled professionals are leaving South Africa – and why some are coming back

 ·24 Mar 2019

Emigrants consistently cite the same reasons for why they choose to leave and return home to South Africa.

This is according to Angel Jones, CEO of Homecoming Revolution, a recruitment firm that specialises in ‘brain gain’ and bringing global African talent back to the continent.

Speaking to CBC Africa, Jones said that the biggest reason that people leave the country is for career prospects.

By comparison, the number one reason for returning is friends and family.

“People abroad want to be at home and bring their children back home with grandparents close by – that’s the main drawcard,” she said.

“Next on the list is a sense of belonging and a number of people are also returning home in search of an innovative career,” she said.

Jones said that she often deals with professionals in their late twenties and early thirties who are recently married and have begun starting a family.

“These families leave the country in the hopes that the grass is greener on the other side – but this isn’t necessarily the case,” she said.

“(These professionals) realise actually how easy you do have it back home with grannies and grandpas and it’s that emotional drawcard that brings them back.”


Jones said that she primarily deals with emigrants between 28 – 40 years of age who have five years of international experience.

She said that these individuals were particularly valuable as they have valuable international exposure but still understand the nuances of working back home.

She added that there was a demand across the continent for the following sectors:

  • C-Suite level executives (CFOs, CMOs and general managers);
  • Cybersecurity;
  • Data analytics;
  • E-commerce;
  • Fintech;
  • Software development.

Jones said that conservative estimates show that there are around 900,000 South Africans living abroad.

However, Homecoming Revolution believes that this number is likely closer to three times as high (2,700,000+), she said.

“We saw when Ramaphosa came in that enquiries tripled.

“However, enquiries tapered off by between 15-20% since the start of 2019 because of Eskom,” she said.

“We estimate that for every one skilled that returns home, seven new jobs are created in the formal and informal sectors.”

Read: Here’s how many work permits were granted to South Africans by the UK government last year

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