South Africa

South Africa tackles skills crisis

Aaron Motsoaledi

South Africa took a key step toward fixing its broken work-permit application regime, which the office of President Cyril Ramaphosa has identified as a key impediment to growth. 

The Department of Home Affairs has invited companies that want to secure work permits for senior executives and technicians to take part in a pilot of a Trusted Employer Scheme, it said in a government notice this week. 

Businesses that want to take advantage of the program, which is designed to dismantle the byzantine application process, will need to demonstrate that they run training programs for South Africans, the department said.

Participants in the program will see their applications given higher priority, and there will be fewer requirements and a reduced number of supporting documents.

Companies operating in South Africa struggle to find skilled workers, a result of a dysfunctional education system exacerbated by emigration.

Still, between 2014 and 2021, only 25,298 skilled work permit visas were approved, according to a report prepared for the presidency earlier this year. 

While processing a work visa in South Africa can take 48 weeks or more, the process in Kenya is a maximum of 12 weeks and just eight weeks in Nigeria, according to the report.


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