South Africans are flocking to these areas – and it’s creating a skills gap

South Africa’s migration patterns over the last five years show parts of the country are facing skills and service shortfalls as more people move, says the Department of Human Settlements.

The department’s recently tabled annual performance plan shows the Eastern Cape has been the biggest loser in this regard, with the province seeing an outflow of -319,665  people between 2016 and 2021. This was followed by Limpopo (-188,671), KwaZulu-Natal (-84,367) and the Free State (-29,135).

Gauteng was the biggest recipient of migrants with 991,590 people relocating to the province over the last five years. This was followed by the Western Cape (+292,521) and North West (+116,626). Gauteng has also seen the biggest movement of people crossing in and out of the province, the department said.

While the loss of skills and workers is being felt by those provinces with a high number of out-migrants, the mass urbanisation of Gauteng and parts of the Western Cape has led to rapidly increasing service demands with the government having to quickly reallocate resources for these new residents.

These migratory patterns can be partly attributed to the country’s record-high unemployment rate, with people moving to the more developed Gauteng and Western Cape provinces in search of opportunities.

Data published by Statistics South Africa on 29 March shows that the country’s official unemployment rate rose 0.4 percentage points to a record 35.3% in the fourth quarter of last year.

However, the expanded definition of unemployment is currently sitting at 46.2%. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has raised concerns that the country is now creeping to a 50% expanded unemployment rate.

“Although the problem of unemployment is linked to economic performance in South Africa, the second problem is routed in skills mismatch to the needs of the economy,” the Department of Human Settlements said.

“As local industries forge ahead with technological advancements and striving for global competitiveness, capacity development of most South Africans lacked behind. As a result, the majority are left unemployable.”

Citing data from Statistics South Africa, the department noted that 90% of South Africans who are currently unemployed have a matric certificate or less.

Read: South Africa’s wealthy taxpayers are leaving in their thousands

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