South Africa’s Department of Home Affair’s latest revision to its critical skills list will greatly boost the country’s healthcare sector, says legal firm Webber Wentzel.
Comparing the Critical Skills List published this week to that of the list published in February that was published in February 2022, the DHA has identified an additional 39 occupations in which certain skills or qualifications are critical.
“The revised Critical Skills List indicates a general description of specialised medical practitioners and individual specialisations for each occupation. This means that foreign nationals employed in the newly listed occupations may now be eligible for the corresponding work visas and permanent residency,” the firm said.
The new occupations include:
- Dentist Specialist – in 5 different specialised fields;
- Medical Practitioner Specialist – in 27 specialised fields;
- Registered Nurse – in 6 specialised fields; and
- Industrial Pharmacist.
In respect of the newly added occupations, the Critical Skills List provides the minimum qualification level required; however, it does not indicate a prescribed minimum NQF level required, as with the other occupations listed.
It does however provide what qualifications are required to qualify under the newly added occupations.
A minor change to an existing listed occupation relates to that of Nurse Educator which has been revised to Specialist Nurse Educator, in line with the focus on specialists.
“If a foreign national does not meet the requirements in the revised list due to the emphasis on specialised skills, then he or she will not be eligible to renew his or her current Critical Skills Work Visa when it expires,” Webber Wentzel said.
“If a foreign national possesses the skills and qualifications included in the revised Critical Skills List, he or she is still required to be registered as a member at a relevant professional body, board or council.
“Additionally, a foreign national who is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is required to provide proof of his or her active registration with the applicable foreign regulatory body for the particular field.”
Foreign healthcare professionals with the qualifications and experience desperately needed in South Africa and the businesses hoping to employ them in South Africa may sigh a breath of relief, the law firm said.
However, it noted that foreign nationals who qualify under the revised Critical Skills List still need to comply with all other applicable requirements set out in the Immigration Act and Regulations.
The revised critical skills list comes at an opportune time, after private hospital groups this week voiced frustration over the government’s failure to address the growing nursing skills shortage in the country.
The Hospital Association of South Africa (HASA) held its conference this week, in which speakers brought to light the problems the healthcare sector is facing in training skilled nurses.
Nurses in South Africa are skewing towards retirement age without the necessary influx of new nurses to fill the gap. Private hospitals say they are able to train new nurses but claim that the South African Nursing Council (SANC) – which is the only body that can accredit nurses and their qualifications – is holding them back.
Responding to the claim, the SANC this week denied blocking the training of nurses at private hospitals but did admit that the accreditation process is slow due to a shift in nursing qualifications.
Director for Nursing Education and Training at the Department of Health Dr Kobie Marais told 702 that nursing education has been moved into the higher education stream, and as such, processes are taking longer to get colleges accredited to train nurses.