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SA needs more high-level skills – Ramaphosa


Writing in his weekly newsletter, President Cyril Ramaphosa said to succeed in an ever-changing global economy, the country needs far more people with the right skills.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa says many high-level skills required by companies cannot be found in the country and have to be sourced internationally.

Writing in his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said that to succeed in an ever-changing global economy, the country needed far more people with the right skills.

“This is so that our economy can be competitive, grow and create employment,” said the president.

“As a country, we have invested much in producing these skills, from significantly expanding access to higher education, introducing digital programmes in TVET colleges and a shift to a new pay-for-performance approach to skills development.”

Ramaphosa said it would take some time before the country is able to produce enough skilled people to enable it to grow rapidly.

“A review report published last year found that South Africa’s available labour supply ‘does not match demand from companies which are essentially looking to employ management-level personnel, professionals, engineers, technicians, science and maths educators, as well as IT experts’. This means that, at least in the short-term, many of the these high-level skills must be sourced internationally,” Ramaphosa said.

He said that last week the Department of Home Affairs published for public comment draft amendments to existing immigration regulations that will significantly boost efforts to attract workers with critical skills to South Africa.

“The draft amendments deal with two visa categories: a remote working visa and the critical skills visa.

“The introduction of a remote working visa responds to the rapidly evolving world of work, where increasing numbers of skilled workers, notably in the tech industry, are attracted by the lifestyle benefits of working from a remote location. It also caters to so-called digital nomads, who are able to work virtually from any location in the world. A remote worker who wants to work in South Africa while being employed by a foreign company will be able to receive such a visa.”

He said the draft regulations propose the introduction of a points system for critical skills visas that will take into account factors such as age, qualifications, language skills, work experience and having an offer of employment, among others.

“With South Africa fast becoming an increasingly attractive destination for industries like business process outsourcing and customer experience, attracting more skilled workers will be important.

“In line with our ongoing efforts to attract higher levels of investment and promote job creation, the new work visa regulations are a milestone. They are part of high-impact structural reforms we are undertaking to improve the business operating environment.”

The president added, “They send a clear signal to business that we are committed to attracting skills that meet the demands of a modern, inclusive and growing economy.”

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