Business & Economy

Monday, 12 May 2008 19:09

South African Growth Depends on Skilled Immigrants

{pp}The news is filled with stories about South Africans seeking to emigrate, however many migrants choose South Africa as a new home and the government is honing in on this.

Since the end of apartheid and the start of the South African democracy, South Africa has grown into a strong contender among developing nations in terms of trade issues, inflation numbers and property rights. “South Africa is a popular destination for visitors as well as those seeking a new life abroad,” says Nicholas Geladaris of

“This is because it is a magnificent country and ultimately a land full of opportunity,” he adds. However South Africa has lagged behind in relation to growth rate, staggering as just 1.1% per capita. In order to rectify this, the government are looking at improving skills within the country, as well as looking outside, particularly at the foreign agricultural, manufacturing and tourism sectors.

The South African Department of Home Affairs has launched a pilot project, entitled the Large Account which works with large companies to recruit skilled professionals from around the world. These companies are in desperate need of specialist skills that are in short supply within the country. “South Africa need skills if they want to compete globally,” emphasises Geladaris. Therefore South Africa aims to create jobs from its current pool and foreign talent from developmental initiatives. Just 12 million South Africans are currently employed, this is a small amount compared to its 47 million population.

This is purely due to lack of skills and education levels. In order to sustain growth foreigners are seen as an essential addition. It is with this that more liberal immigration laws for highly skilled foreigners have been proposed. The Department of Home affairs want to speed up the processing times for work permits and have stated that an improved system should be in place within just a few months.

This is essential if the government want foreign skills to enter the country. As South Africa aim to open their border for skills to enter they are also tightening their grip on dealing with illegal immigration. These illegal immigrants are mostly from under developed, conflict ridden countries from across Africa. It is estimated that as many as 3 million Zimbabweans are in South Africa illegally.

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