Skilled people leaving South Africa are creating big gaps in the workforce

South Africa has been seeing a steady increase in professionals wanting to emigrate to other countries, with these professionals leaving a significant gap in both the workforce and the fiscus, says specialist immigration consultancy Xpatweb.

“By leaving their home country in search of international opportunities, they are impacting workplaces, higher education needs and revenue collection by the South African Revenue Services (SARS), which can have a detrimental knock-on effect if qualified replacements remain in short supply,” the firm said.

“While the grass might not always be greener on the other side, it does not negate the fact that there is a paucity of educated professionals and experienced staff across many industries that contribute largely towards the economic growth in South Africa.”

Some of the biggest reasons professionals give for leaving South Africa include:

  • The desire for international exposure;
  • Taking advantage of earning a foreign currency;
  • Gaining global experience;
  • Creating opportunities for their families, which could include a second passport or better education.

Plugging the gaps

Xpatweb’s latest critical skills survey, sourced from 220 notable companies, shows that while many jobs have been challenging to fill in South Africa for several years, a significant contributor to demand is the exodus of skilled and experienced professionals abroad.

Failure to find suitable South African candidates for these roles has resulted in Human Resource professionals casting their lines further afield with the hopes of snagging professionals abroad, said Marisa Jacobs, director at Xpatweb.

However, she warned that it is not as easy as finding the best match in a pool of foreigners and then handing them the job.

Before foreign workers apply for work visas, their qualifications must first be assessed by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and their skills and experience corroborated by the relevant professional body.

Only then does the matter progress to the Department of Home Affairs before the position is finally filled and work resumed.

“It is clearly not just about the skilled workers leaving the country,” said Jacobs. “It’s also about attracting and securing critically skilled workers to come into South Africa,” she said.

Read: Skilled people are leaving South Africa – here’s where they are going.

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Skilled people leaving South Africa are creating big gaps in the workforce