In October, the Institute of People Management hosted a panel discussion at their annual convention covering the topic of Globalised Resourcing and Strategic Skills Growth through the import, export and exchange of skills. Four key role-players participated in the panel who discussed the typical challenges of sourcing foreign nationals and strategies to address common challenges.

SKILLS SHORTAGES

South Africa is faced with a shortage of skills across a number of sectors. The Critical Skills list published by the Department of Home Affairs was introduced in 2014 (the updated list is expected to be released in April 2019), identifying the sectors and specific occupations plagued with these shortages thereby providing business with the ability to source these skills globally ensuring continued economic growth.

SKILLS TRANSFER – HOW?

Mr Phindiwe Mbhele, Director of the Department of Home Affairs’ Corporate Accounts Unit, indicated that in many cases the source of the challenges faced in transferring of skills may not be the ability, but rather the method. This is especially apparent in occupations such as CEO and other executive roles where the skill set is diverse and hard to quantify.

Deputy Director of Labour Migration at Department of Labour, Ms Nonhlanhla Ngwenya, further referred to the ‘Employment Services Act’ promulgated in 2014, that will introduce training processes for South African companies to better enable them to conduct the necessary upskilling of local talent through skills transfer programs.

CONCESSION PLANNING

Ms Monyela, whom has experience as an expat herself, advocated the importance of expatriate employees and especially at strategic and executive level. Philafrica being a multi-national organisation with plans to expand further across Africa, Ms Monyela appreciates that expatriates are necessary for the growth of the organisation but requires strategy to ensure skills transfer and concession planning. The skills transfer is further required both locally and abroad to ensure holistic development of the business.

She caveats, it is about finding the balance between bringing foreign talent into South Africa and sending skilled local employees abroad with the clear intention that, in both instances, skills are going to be utilized fully and transferred for the prescribed purpose and period that they have been assigned.

As an HR executive, Ms Monyela encouraged any HR professional to understand the landscape in which the desired skills of foreign employees ought to be deployed.

ENGAGE

Once the company has determined the set of skills they require, they need to familiarise themselves in terms of the various processes involved when employing a foreign national.

This will include engaging both an Immigration Service Provider and the Department of Home Affairs to determine the correct and most feasible methods to proceed in employing a foreign national.

Mr Moeketsi Seboko, Immigration and Technical Manager at Xpatweb, indicated that he is often approached by organizations and professionals after an application for a visa has been rejected, only to find, that numerous errors and incorrect processes were followed in applying for the visa. This naturally incurs unforeseen delays with the project where the expat is required to be onsite within a prescribed timeframe and causes frustration for the employer.

At the on-set, it is imperative to determine and qualify a foreign employee correctly within a prescribed visa category as per the Immigration Act of 2002, as amended. This will avoid unnecessary delays and complications. It is best to approach a professional whom has gleaned knowledge in terms of processes and requirements for foreign employees.

In most cases, rejections could have been prevented if prior engagement with the Department of Home Affairs had occurred. Mr Mbhele welcomes any Corporate to approach the Department of Home Affairs prior to the implementation of a project and to gain the support of the Department and determine exact requirements and protocols specific to the project.

In closing

The onus is therefore on employers to ensure that the South African labour market is upskilled by the foreign employees within the respective organisations. If further able, to retain these skills to ensure continued input into the South African economy.

Panel members

  1. The Issuing Authority – Mr Phindiwe Mbhele, Director of the Department of Home Affairs’ Corporate Accounts Unit;
  2. The Deciding Authority – Ms Nonhlanhla Ngwenya, Deputy Director of Labour Migration at Department of Labour;
  3. A South African Employer – Ms Mpume Monyela, HR Director at Philafrica Foods (Pty) Ltd; and
  4. Immigration Service Provider – Moeketsi Seboko, Immigration and Technical Manager at Xpatweb.

Authored by:

Tasia Brummer, Immigration Specialist, Xpatweb

Marisa Jacobs, Director and Head of Mobility, Xpatweb

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