This is according to Marisa Jacobs, Managing Director at Xpatweb. The expatriate and visa services firm played a key role in shaping the latest Critical Skills List, contributing vital research and technical input during its development and final release.
Says Jacobs: “We are seeing unprecedented global events disrupting international markets and talent supply chains, leaving both risks and opportunities in their wake. So local employers must press for the List to be updated regularly to reflect emerging skills shortages that would be severely aggravated by visa denials.” This is on top of South Africa’s persistent exodus of qualified and experienced professionals, leaving to seek greener pastures abroad.
Xpatweb’s Annual Critical Skills survey gives employers the opportunity to be heard by policy makers and its data allows them to participate indirectly in shaping immigration legislation.
An authoritative reference
The survey was started in 2017 and this will be its fifth cycle, with the 2020/21 results being consolidated due to constraints caused by COVID-19.
However, the study came to prominence when its 2020/21 preliminary research findings were submitted to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) for consideration in drafting the latest national Occupations in High Demand (OIHD) list.
Consequently, the DHET invited Xpatweb to present these findings as part of an interdepartmental session between itself, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the Department of Labour (DoL) and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC). Notably, Xpatweb was the only private-sector entity to be afforded this privilege.
The OIHD list served as the basis for the 2020 national Critical Skills List and Xpatweb’s continued submissions ensured that several discarded critical skills were returned to the list before its final release in February 2022. This includes controversial omissions such as Corporate General Manager, certain Engineering occupations and Health Sector professions, which were consequently readded as a result of Xpatweb’s input.
“This milestone established the Critical Skills Survey Report as an authoritative reference for policy makers, businesses, analysts and other stakeholders, and its source data as an influencing force in moulding legislation,” says Jacobs. It also marks the Xpatweb team as a competent and reliable provider of relevant research and subject matter expertise.
The future of critical skills
Recent global events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, conflict in the Ukraine, climate change, skyrocketing inflation and more, are testing even traditionally resilient economies. In addition, changing attitudes towards work, witnessed as the Great Resignation in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as a global skills crisis, are impacting the distribution and availability of critical talents.
“South African employers must act swiftly to attract scarce talent. They cannot afford to face visa barriers, propped up by an already ageing Critical Skills List,” says Jacobs.
She says her firm looks forward to a List that is systematically and organically amended to accommodate the rapidly changing critical skills supply chain. However, this would require that its custodians have access to a sufficient volume of meaningful data.
“Employers who participate in Xpatweb’s Critical Skills Survey are contributing to that body of data and effectively clearing the path for an evolving Critical Skills List that meets their current and emerging needs,” says Jacobs.
How to take part
It is more important than ever that critical skills employers take part in Xpatweb’s biggest Critical Skills Survey yet. The online survey launches on 31 August 2022 and will run until the end of October. Its results will be published in the company’s Critical Skills Survey Report 2022 once all the data has been correlated.
When the Critical Skills Survey goes live, Xpatweb will send an invitation to its database of opted-in participants and announce its availability on popular social networks, like LinkedIn and Facebook. However, anyone can take part by visiting www.xpatweb.com from the 31st of August.
“As the survey remains extremely relevant, we’re expecting an amazing turnout this year, and look forward to publishing our most informative Critical Skills Survey Report to date,” says Jacobs.