Xpatweb managing director, Marisa Jacobs, says that South Africa is experiencing a mass exodus of healthcare workers, looking for greener pastures following graduation, and has called on the government to do more to stop this.
According to Jacobs, in addition to skilled workers leaving, nearly half (48%) of practicing nurses in the country are due to reach retirement age in the next 15 years, with not nearly enough in training to fill the shortfall. This will leave a massive gap in the healthcare system that needs to be filled.
However, several options are available to resolve this issue, she said.
Using the example of the UK’s push to bolster its own healthcare workforce, Jacobs said special visas could be introduced locally to halt an exodus and instead draw workers in.
The UK’s special visa allows health and social care workers to apply to work in the country, providing faster visa turn-around times, reduced visa fees, and exemption from certain surcharges. With enough political will, a similar provision could be made in South Africa.
Further, South Africa has a critical skills list that includes skills in high demand, which can be leveraged to draw these needed skills in.
Jacobs said the South African government should be open to considering several other visa options to attract skilled workers and investors alike to strengthen the labour sector, and the economy.
- Residency by Investment options;
- Special Dispensations for specific skills – similar to the UK healthcare worker visa;
- Remote Worker Visas – similar to Mauritius and Portugal’s nomad visas.
All these options are aimed at attracting only the top skilled labour, injecting the economy through tourism and travel, and inciting investors, said Jacobs.
“The pandemic has certainly highlighted various shortcomings across sectors, but it has also shown that nations on the continent and around the world can stand together in times of need.
“Policy and regulations enable growth and skills development in significant ways but only where we invite debate, comment positively and with insight on draft legislation and make our voices heard.”
Jacobs said that Xpatweb conducts a critical skills survey annually to gather feedback from employers to establish which skills should be included in the Critical Skills list.
“The survey data will be instrumental in commentary on the latest draft list currently open for public comment until 31 March 2021.
“This is the perfect platform for employers and all South Africans alike to provide valuable inputs to the Department of Home Affairs on how to optimally leverage the list to attract skills to South Africa to strengthen the economy and local labour force for generations to come.”