With zero unemployment in certain skilled professions, and increasing opportunities back home, 400,000 expat white South Africans have moved back to South Africa since 2009.
Many expats left South Africa due to the oppressive apartheid regime in the 1970s and 80s. Another wave of citizens quit the country following implementation of Black Economic Empowerment. According to figures produced by StatsSA with further research carried out by the economist Loane Sharp, and published on Moneyweb Today, over 2 million white South Africans left their country between 1972 and 2009. Currently a higher proportion of scientists work in the UK and US than in Africa. Figures from StatsSA show that the white population has risen to 4.3 million but there are still large gaps in the professions within all sectors of the South African population.
Those in search of a new dream life in an English speaking country were affected by the economic crash of 2008. ‘South Africans working abroad got a rude awakening …when they realised their overseas jobs were not as secure as they had thought,’ said Sharp. The first place that many expat South Africans turned to for alternative employment options was the country of their birth.
Now South African employment agencies are actively targeting expats in a bid to fill a whole range of vacancies. Despite South Africa having unemployment of 26%, there is practically no unemployment among the professional and skilled sectors. There is high demand for those with qualifications and experience in the areas of mining, construction and technology and Philip Park, director of personnel agency, Professional Career Services confirms that there is 'a notable influx of returning South Africans looking for work' on his firm’s books.
The demand for expats is also confirmed by executive search agency Homecoming. The agency recently recorded that the social networking platform LinkedIn has recorded that South Africa is among the top 20 countries in the world that’s attracting skilled employment seekers. Reasons behind this popularity include ‘a better quality of life, sense of belonging, jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.’
Backed by president Thabo Mbeki the call for expats to return home is gathering momentum and Mbeki is anxious to ‘reverse the brain drain.’ Any skilled expat thinking of relocating to South Africa can be sure of a very warm welcome as well as the opportunity to find work.