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10 in-demand skill and job changes that South Africans should know about


The Department of Home Affairs recently published its latest critical skills list for South Africa, outlining those skills in short supply in the country.

The list, last updated in 2014, is primarily aimed at attracting foreign nationals but is also a good barometer for the jobs and skills that are generally in short supply.

“Ultimately, it is crucial for all South Africans to understand what skills our nation needs for our economic development and how we as South Africans can contribute productively,” said Marisa Jacobs, director of Xpatweb.

“Our critical skills list is not just intended for Foreign Nationals but can also serve as a guide for matriculants in their professional pathways to also plug the gap in line with skills shortage in the country.”

Below Jabobs outlined 10 key takeaways from the new list. The full list of skills is embedded below.


Corporate general managers are in

The list includes both corporate general manager and director as occupations in high demand.

“This comes as a huge relief after the occupation was left of the draft list causing panic for those currently holding a visa in this category as well as businesses who need these skills to operate optimally,” Jacobs said.

“There have been new parameters placed hereon which include that it must be for those who have an offer of employment from a medium or large enterprise and that you must have a minimum NQF qualification of level 8.”


Minimum requirements

The new list requires a minimum NQF level qualification for each occupation ranging from level 3 to level 10 and mostly NQF level 8 and 9 required.

The Act requires that a critical skills visa applicant in this category must have the necessary “qualification and/or experience” related to the position. The revised list now clearly defines that a qualification is required for each occupation on the list, Jacobs said.


Engineering occupations remain prevalent

The list continues to include numerous Engineering occupations including Electrician Engineer, Chemical Engineer and Mining Engineer which were initially left of the draft list.

“The Xpatweb annual critical skills survey in 2021 confirmed that Engineering skills are of the most sought-after skills in South Africa and employers are looking for highly qualified engineers with many years experience.

“As we continue to see South African engineers recruited globally including places like the Netherland, we foresee arise in a shortage of experienced engineers in South Africa,” Jacobs said.


Permanent residency

Those who hold critical skills visas under the old list (2014) and whose skills did not make it onto the new list, will still be allowed to apply for permanent residency under their occupation as reflected on the 2014 list.

“This was a concern for many as their critical skills visa would not be renewable if not included on the new list. The concession to allow these visa holders to still progress to Permanent Residency will mean these skills can remain in South Africa long term,” Jacobs said.


Firm offer of employment required

New guidelines confirm that all applicants in the category Critical Skills Visa must have an offer of employment in hand at the time of making the application.

Previously an applicant was allowed to apply without such an offer and was issued a one-year visa to allow them to secure employment before applying for a full 5-year visa. This is no longer allowed, Jacobs said.


Foreign language speakers included

Call Centres raised concerns at the original exclusion of foreign language speaker from the draft list published in March 2021 as this would spell disaster for their need to serve European, Middle East and Asian markets.

The new list now includes a revised occupation of outbound and inbound contact centre consultants respectively with specialist language skills listing the same listed as previously including German, Swiss German, Flemish, Greek, Swedish, Danish, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and French.

Languages that did not make the list despite submission to include same are Portuguese, Arabic, Russian and Brazilian.


Teachers and lecturers back on

The quota list pre-2014 included teachers and was unpopularly removed from the list in 2014. All teachers had to go through the extensive General Work Visa process to gain a work visa.

“The new list sees STEM teachers for Grade 8 – 12 included with a NQF level 7 requirement as well as University Lecturers with NQF level 9 and 10,” said Jacobs.


Post-qualification experience

Applications for permanent residency under critical skills will require the inclusion of proof of post-qualification experience that has been vetted by Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE) or similar organisations, said Jacobs.

This is an additional step that was previously satisfied with a detailed CV and reference letters from past employers, she said.


Withdrawal of waiver for critical skills graduates in South Africa

“Those who studied in a critical skills area were in the past, under a ministerial waiver, granted exemption from certain requirements such as past qualification experience and registration with a professional body.

“These exemptions have now been withdrawn and all applicants must comply with the requirements of the Act,” Jacobs said.


Teething expected

“As with all law changes, we expect to see some initial teething problems and especially with adjudicating officials placed at embassies all around the world, getting everyone on the same page in terms of the requirements to qualify for a visa under the revised list will have some issues in the coming months,” Jacobs said.

“Reach out to your service provider to guide you on how to navigate the new requirements for a first-time correct application and build in some timeline delays to ensure you are not caught off guard.”


Read: How many South Africans earn more than R1 million a year



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