President Cyril Ramaphosa stated on Monday that with South Africa becoming an “increasingly attractive destination” for business process outsourcing and customer experience, attracting more skilled workers will be important.
Last week, the Department of Home Affairs published for public comment draft amendments to existing immigration regulations that aim to 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.
Ramaphosa wrote in his weekly letter to the nation that in line with the country’s ongoing efforts to attract higher levels of investment and promote job creation, the new work visa regulations were a milestone.
He said that the visa regulations were part of high-impact structural reforms government was undertaking to improve the business operating environment.
Ramaphosa explained that the introduction of a remote working visa responded to the rapidly evolving world of work, where increasing numbers of skilled workers, particularly those in the tech industry, were 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, he explained.
He added that a remote worker who wanted to work in South Africa while being employed by a foreign company would be able to receive such a visa.
“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, amongst others,” he said.
Ramaphosa noted that the publication of the new draft regulations were part of government’s ongoing drive to reform the country’s visa system, making it easier to attract the skills the country’s economy needed and to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.
An efficient, agile, responsive visa regime was key to attracting business investment and boosting economic growth, Ramaphosa said.
He highlighted 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. As a country, we have invested much in producing these skills, from significantly expanding access to higher education, introducing digital programmes in technical and vocational education and training colleges and a shift to a new pay-for-performance approach to skills development,” he said.
However, Ramaphosa explained that it would take some time before government could produce enough skilled people to enable the country 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 Information technology experts”.
“This means that, at least in the short term, many of these high-level skills must be sourced internationally,” Ramaphosa said.