Trade Briefs

Attracting Scarce Skills: How does South Africa’s skills immigration regime fare in addressing skills deficits?

Attracting Scarce Skills: How does South Africa’s skills immigration regime fare in addressing skills deficits?

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23 Oct 2019

Author(s): David Christianson

There have been prominent statements this year suggesting that skills immigration is high on the Ramaphosa government’s agenda. However, behind the headlines, matters are less than clear. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) argues that ‘South Africa has not put in place adequate policy, strategies, institutions and capacity for attracting, recruiting and retaining international migrants with the necessary skills and resources’. Past initiatives, such as President Mbeki’s 2006 Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) have floundered on red tape, bureaucratic inertia and lack of political follow-through. Is there any reason to expect the current initiative will be more successful?

The issue is one of whether skills immigration reform will be a matter of policy changes or whether it will simply be a matter of refining the existing administrative system. This trade brief sets out to establish the current situation, clarifying the issues, the players and the direction of play.


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