Move quickly on SA’s new work visa rules to attract investment, urges industry association

Zinhle Tyikwe is chied executive of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa. File

Zinhle Tyikwe is chied executive of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa. File

Published Apr 8, 2024


The effective implementation of the planned new work visa rules to simplify the recruitment of foreign skills will support efforts to attract investment, the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) said on Friday.

CGCSAs chief executive Zinhle Tyikwe said replacing the government’s critical skills list requirement with a points system to recruit expatriates would hopefully ease the administrative and bureaucratic burden that multinational companies with businesses in South Africa have been facing to hire skilled staff.

“In addition to removing the critical list, it is reported the regulations also introduce remote work visas for foreigners earning more than R1 million a year who want to relocate to South Africa,” Tyikwe said.

The Department of Home Affairs recently issued new work visa regulations that make it easier for skilled foreigners to come and work in South Africa.

These regulations introduce a points system to replace the controversial critical skills list.

Tyikwe said the consumer goods sector represented by the CGCSA, one of the largest employers in the country, had some member companies who had been experiencing delays in processing work permit applications at the Department of Home Affairs.

The delays had led to some of the companies postponing making investment decisions and this has affected their operations and potential to employ more local people.

“There are skills that are not available locally and our multinational member companies have experienced delays in the processing and issuance of work permits at the Department of Home Affairs. Resultantly, this has not only caused frustration but also affected investment decisions as they require critical skills for their operations,” she said.

She said while welcoming the new regulations and waiting for the publication of the notice outlining the points system criteria, CGCSA also urged that there be better and more efficient coordination between the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Labour, which was also involved in the processing of work visas.

“There is evidently increased workload for both departments, which has in the past resulted in the administrative delays our members have experienced. We, therefore, urge both departments to ensure that the new work visa rules will be expeditiously processed and issued so that our affected member companies can recruit much-needed skills to help manage and grow their operations,” she said.

Tyikwe said CGCSA acknowledged the need for skills transfer and its members were and continued to be committed to broad-based transformation through skills development.

“The recruitment of foreign skills should, therefore, be seen in a positive light from the perspective that companies will be able to plug in the skills gap while also using foreign talent to transfer skills to locals, many of whom are young, educated South Africans from previously economically disadvantaged backgrounds,” she said.

In February, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his weekly newsletter, said South Africa’s new draft work visa regulations were a milestone for the country’s efforts to attract investment and promote job creation.

Earlier that month, the Department of Home Affairs released the draft second amendment of the Immigration Regulations for public comment. The draft regulations deal with remote work and critical skills visas.

The draft regulations proposed the introduction of a points system for critical skills visas that would take into account factors such as age, qualifications, language skills, work experience and having an offer of employment, among others, the President said then.

In the Pnet Job Market Trends Report for last month, the job site said its latest research on remote job opportunities clearly indicated that remote work has made a consistent appearance in the South African job market and was here to stay for the foreseeable future. The IT sector remained the most prominent job sector in terms of remote work opportunities.

It said South Africa grappled with a significant challenge of scarce skills, where there is a noticeable gap between the skills demanded by the job market and those possessed by the workforce. Factors contributing to this scarcity include inadequate education and training systems, brain drain as skilled professionals seek opportunities abroad, and mismatched skill sets due to rapid technological advancements.

“Addressing this challenge requires multifaceted approaches such as enhancing education and vocational training, fostering innovation hubs, attracting and retaining talent, and promoting collaborations between academia and industry to align skill development with market needs. Offering remote work opportunities is a great way to provide more attractive and flexible working conditions and can come in useful when recruiting to secure scarce and high in demand skills.”