Information & Communication Technology (ICT) professionals, engineers and scientists are in demand in South Africa according to the critical skills work visa list released by the Department of Home Affairs in May 2014.
The new government gazetted publication replaced the 2009 quota work visa list and details the economically vital professions that the local workforce doesn’t have the sufficient skills to fill – the three fields listed above accounted for over half of the 220-odd appointed jobs.
Most notable was the fact that the 2014 list outlines 15 ICT positions – the old list only identified a single job. So whereas in the past the country declared it was only in need of network/support professionals, it’s now given the technology category a wider berth, calling on everyone from foreign integrated developers and anti-virus specialists to CISCO solutions specialists and network analysts to come work in the rainbow nation.
As South Africa’s ICT sector is often pegged as the largest and most innovative on the continent, the exponential increase reflected in the critical skills list makes perfect sense, as does the fact that considerably more science-related professions were flagged.
For one, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which is an international project to build the world’s largest telescope, is based on local soil; for two, the nation is a wildlife and biodiversity hotspot; and perhaps most importantly, the World Economic Forum recently ranked the country’s math and science education last out of the 148 nations polled.
So whether government is catering to present demand or swelling its foreign scientist ranks to better mentor the youth and fill positions until the school system carries its own weight, it seems that the decision to increase the number of science-related jobs outlined in 2009 from roughly 12 to over 30 in 2014 has grounding. It’s also worth mentioning that the critical skills list’s science category covers a range of professions, from seismologists and toxicology scientists to marine bioscientists and botanical scientists.
On the engineering front, there wasn’t a huge increase in the number of positions designated by the new list as compared to the old list, but the sheer number of engineers and engineer technicians needed is still large as South Africa’s economy is very much tied to geology, mineralogy and chemistry.
There were, however, some interesting new positions pinpointed in addition to the typical mechanical engineers and mining engineers called for in past. Now, ship engineers, environmental engineers, software development engineers, radar engineers and more are in demand as well.
In short, if you fall into the ICT professional, scientist or engineer category and are looking to relocate, South Africa may be a brilliant option.
Click here to find out more about the critical skills work visa.