4 scary facts about emigration in South Africa

An increasing number of skilled South Africans are looking to emigrate according to recruiting firm, the Induku Consulting Group, which says that contrary to popular belief more black professionals are looking to make the move.

While Induku is not the only company to sound the warning alarm about increasing emigration, it can be difficult to estimate exactly how many people are leaving.

Currently, the Department of Home Affairs does not track emigration in South Africa, making it a difficult task to develop a running monthly headcount.

However, several other data points provide some indication of who is leaving and why.

This is what we know:

Jump in private school students emigrating

Listed private schooling group AdvTech reported muted financial results this week, citing an increase in the number of student who have emigrated.

“South Africa had a more muted performance, which was impacted by the high levels of withdrawals owing to emigration and financial pressures, particularly in the premium schools,” the group said.

Speaking to 702, AdvTech CEO Roy Douglas said that it was difficult to give a hard figure on the number of students who have left over the last couple of years.

However, he noted that the group has seen over 500 student withdrawals due to emigration in 2019 alone.

“If we look back to last year we probably had between 930 – 940 departures due to emigration.

“Far from (emigration) spiking – which we perhaps believed would lead to an outflow (of students)  before declining – it looks like it is continuing at a pace and perhaps even growing.”

“You have to be careful, however as this is obviously not a direct linear projection.”

People are selling to leave

An increasing number of South Africans are selling their homes with plans to emigrate, according to the latest FNB property barometer.

“Emigration-driven sales have become a more prominent feature of the housing market in South Africa over the past two years,” FNB said.

“According to estate agents, these are estimated to have steadied at around 13.4% in 2Q19, marginally down from 14.2% in 1Q19.”

FNB said that this trend is more prevalent in the higher end of the market, although appears to have spilled over to the lower ends as well.

It added that the spike in the lower and middle ends could, in part, be explained by upper-income owners disposing of their investment properties.]

More people heading to Australia and New Zealand

While South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs does not track emigration statistics data provided by other countries shows that there has been an influx in South Africans.

The latest data from Stats NZ shows that there has been a sharp rise in South African migrants, with 8,200 people moving to the country between April 2018 and April 2019.

StatsNZ classifies migrants as overseas residents who arrive in New Zealand and cumulatively spend 12 of the next 16 months in the country. The duration of stay is based on observed travel histories from linked arrival and departure records.

This means that approximately 683 South Africans migrated to New Zealand every month over the last year – or just over 22 people each day.

The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that there are approximately 189,000 South African-born people currently living in Australia.

This number has steadily increased over the past decade, with Melbourne and Sydney being the most popular destinations.

This increase is reflected in the number of ‘permanent additions’ to Australia’s resident population in the 2017-2018 financial year. This includes persons who were in Australia on a temporary basis and were granted a permanent visa,

This also includes the number of people who have obtained a permanent visa onshore, the number of settler arrivals during a given time period, and the number of people who have been granted a permanent protection visa onshore.

Combined this added to a total of 5,397 South Africans over 2016/17 time period and 2,907 South Africans over the 2017/2018 period.

Brain drain

A large number of these South Africans looking to emigrate are skilled professionals.

According to Sable International’s Andrew Rissik, around 25,000 skilled people leaving South Africa each year, with around 1,000 – 2,000 of these people also being very wealthy people who are able to buy their way into other countries.

This averages out to around 68 skilled people, and between two and five ultra-wealthy South Africans, leaving the country every day.

“These are potentially very high-quality taxpayers that South Africa is losing,” said Rissik.

“What we see is that a lot of people with young children tend to start getting pulled back to South Africa because of family links.

“Although we have seen this (trend) slow compared to the past decade because of the economic situation in South Africa as we know it – it’s really pretty negative at the moment.”

Rissik added that as long as ‘push factors’ are present, people will continue to leave.

Read: More skilled black professionals are leaving South Africa

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4 scary facts about emigration in South Africa