New critical skills list guides employers on recruiting outside SA

101 occupations can be filled by foreign skills.

The Department of Home Affairs recently published its latest critical skills list for South Africa, outlining those skills in short supply in the country. The department identified a total of 101 jobs that should give qualified foreigners a fast-track to a working visa or permanent residence in the country.

The long-awaited new Critical Skills List, which had not been updated since 2014, was gazetted by Aaron Motsoaledi, minister of Home Affairs. This has been welcomed by corporations across South Africa, which may now recruit and sought-after critical skills.

Foreign nationals may now establish whether their profession is in demand, scarce and/or critical in South Africa and may be eligible to commence a career path in the country provided that their intended occupation is in line with what is deemed as a critical skill.

Moeketsi Seboko, Immigration manager at Xpatweb says that the current list was compiled on the basis of extensive engagement between government departments and academics, academic institutions, professional bodies, business, etc.

He says, “Occupations gazetted were compiled and finalised using a scientific criterion which determined at the end whether a skill is critical or not. They were included or removed from the list on the basis of sufficient evidence and referenced research.”

The list also includes those occupations that will be needed post -pandemic to help revive the economy.

What has changed
Foreign nationals now have access to previously unattainable opportunities thanks to the new Critical Skills List. Despite the removal of certain important categories from the list, noticeable occupations have been added. These include director (enterprise/organisation), chief executive officer, managing director, corporate general manager (medium enterprises or larger, programme or project manager, quality systems manager, physicist, climate change scientist, chemist, biotechnologist and actuary.

Moeketsi says it is crucial for all South Africans to understand what skills our nation needs for our economic development, adding that, “We also need to understand how we as South Africans can contribute productively, since our Critical Skills List is not just intended for Foreign Nationals but can also serve as a guide for matriculants in their professional pathways to also plug the gap in line with skills shortage in the country.”

As with all law changes, initial teething problems are to be expected. Moeketsi says it is also worth noting that the new categories and qualifying components may make the application procedure more onerous and as such HR leaders should consult with immigration specialists to help them sift through these challenges and guide them throughout the process.