South Africans Are Choosing To Move Abroad, Taking Their Skills With Them

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More skilled South Africans are taking the plunge and choosing to emigrate to other countries, and are taking their valuable skills with them. Citizens have many reasons for choosing to leave, but what does that mean for the country? 


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The South African Revenue Services (SARS) has revealed that a number of South Africans have emigrated the country, taking their valuable skills with them.

Within the last financial year, around 6000 South Africans have packed up and left the country, even though they are not necessarily high-income earners. 

Simultaneously, about a 50% increase in South Africans inquiring about making the move was recorded by New World Immigration, an organization that focuses primarily on making it easier for prospective migrants to move abroad. 

"The people that are moving, they are taxpayers, so basically what that means is that there'll be fewer taxpayers in each of the years [to come], and then less revenue being collected. As you know, the Personal Income Tax [collected] contributes around 36% into the fiscals, so if most people leave the country, that will result in lesser collection of taxes," explains Maggie Ntombela from Deloitte, a financial advisory firm.  

While choosing to reside and work in a different country is not uncommon, especially as South Africa grapples with a crippling unemployment rate, it leaves the wonder as to how our own skills shortage situation will be improved if those in possession of the skills are across the globe. 

As the country appears to be making significant improvements in combating unemployment, the slow pace raises the question of whether the country is producing the right kind of jobs considering the currently existing skills shortage in the labour sector. 

Scarce skills exist because the market is unable to hire and retain high-quality workers with these rare skill sets in the numbers required and because (in many cases) people change jobs frequently, leaving organizations in a constant state of flux as new employees try to learn and achieve required skill levels.

Skilled workers who can adapt to changing job requirements often have greater financial security and earning potential. 

Scarce skills protect a worker from being replaced by technologies, since new technology can replicate some of the tasks that scarce skills perform, but cannot replace the worker possessing those skills.

The issue of South Africa's skills scarcity has been noted by the Department of Higher Education and Training. In August last year, the DHET's Minister, Blade Nzimande stated that they are finalising their skills and innovation strategy.

Both of these strategies will support the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP). 

According to Jasmine Black, entrepreneur and founder of Dynamic Tutoring, says one of the main reasons why South Africans are choosing to leave and instead settle down the United Kingdom, is the safety. 

"The one thing for me, is that I constantly feel under threat living in this country. In the past year, I was the victim to two violent crimes and when your basic needs, such as safety, is constantly threatened and you can't be assured of that, how are you ever going to focus on reaching your potential and growing as an individual when that basic need is not being met in this country", says Black.

The threat of safety paired with the lack of opportunities available in this country compared to others, both contribute and serve as motivating factors regarding the wave of emigration of South African citizens.

"There's been a huge shift, like now everyone is leaving and Europe has also had a hard hit [with regards] to them losing talent or not having talent, and I've seen people leaving the country and taking up opportunities like in Europe", elaborated Mtombela. 

On the bright side, South Africa's Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector has received a major facelift to produce graduates capable of contributing to the growth of the local economy. 

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people with scarce skills

Scarce skills exist because the market is unable to hire and retain high-quality workers with these rare skill sets in the numbers required and because (in many cases) people change jobs frequently, leaving organizations in a constant state of flux as new employees try to learn and achieve required skill levels.

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