The Call for Skilled Foreign Workers
Ramaphosa stressed that the infusion of skilled foreign workers is essential for the country’s competitiveness, growth, and employment generation. Despite significant investments in expanding access to higher education, implementing digital programs in TVET colleges, and adopting a new pay-for-performance approach to skills development, producing an adequate number of skilled individuals locally will take time.
Challenges in the Labour Market
Addressing challenges in the labour market, a review report from last year identified a misalignment between South Africa’s available labour supply and the demand for professionals, engineers, technicians, science and math educators, and IT experts at the management level. Ramaphosa acknowledged that sourcing high-level skills internationally, at least in the short term, is necessary.
Boosting Efforts through Immigration Regulations
Last week, the Department of Home Affairs introduced four draft amendments to existing immigration regulations, aiming to enhance efforts in attracting workers with critical skills to Mzansi. The amendments focus on two visa categories: a remote working visa and a necessary skills visa.
Critical Role of Efficient Visa Regime
Ramaphosa emphasized that an efficient, agile, and responsive visa regime is pivotal in attracting business investment and fostering economic growth. He highlighted the international experience, showing that employees with critical skills contribute to improved productivity, enhanced innovation, and increased competitiveness for their firms.
Trusted Employer Scheme and Economic Appeal
In October of the previous year, the Department of Home Affairs introduced guidelines for corporate employers under a ‘Trusted Employer Scheme,’ streamlining the visa process for large investors. This scheme aims to make South Africa more attractive for industries like business process outsourcing and customer experience. Ramaphosa noted the country’s growing appeal as an offshore customer experience delivery destination, coupled with government support for the sector’s expansion.