South Africa’s skills shortages can be tackled by recruiting large numbers of skilled immigrants. To achieve that the country will have to participate effectively in the global skills market as it is impossible for the country to grow for a sustained period without alleviating the massive skills constraints.
Skilled people continue to emigrate from South Africa, losing more than 520 000 people between 1989 and 2003, of whom about 120 000 had formal qualifications. There are no reliable recent figures, but this trend continues today.
South Africa has put too many obstacles in the path of skilled foreigners who want to live and work here. We need to welcome, with a minimum of conditions, all skilled people who wish to immigrate, including people with entrepreneurial abilities, as well as skilled trainers and educators who could strengthen the domestic skills production system.
The country’s domestic skills production system is grossly inefficient: We must communicate unambiguously that skilled immigration is not only compatible with, but essential for developing local skills. Skilled immigrants should be seen as a form of foreign direct investment.