Cape Town - The new list of critical skills is not comprehensive enough to attract all the classes of qualified foreigners needed to help grow the economy, immigration lawyers say.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has published a list of 169 occupations which are classified as critical skills in 11 economic sectors.
Foreigners who have these skills or qualifications may apply for the new critical skills work visa.
This visa has replaced the previous quota and exceptional skills permit visas.
However, Zahida Ebrahim, from law company ENSafrica, said fields like the maritime industry, oil and gas sector, and finance – economists in particular – were not covered by the list.
“In the shipping industry, the new regulations do not make provision for a logistics manager. This is a key aspect of their business and it is a scarce skill in the industry,” she said.
“The list does still not sufficiently cover South Africa’s wide skills deficit.”
Although the list was broader than that used before, it “has to be expanded to attract more qualified foreigners to grow the country’s economy”, Ebrahim said.
Nora Dawud, a German immigration lawyer in Cape Town, said critical posts such as those for a biomedical engineer was not included on the list. She said a shipping engineer was listed but the professional body for this vocation was not recognised by SA Qualifications Authority - which was a requirement.
“These specialists can apply for a general work visa, but many of them are in industries where companies cannot wait six months for the government to approve a visa application.”
The general work visa requires employers to give reasons why a South African cannot fill the position. They also need to list all the unsuccessful candidates.
The published critical work skills list covers 11 sectors.
They include agriculture, building, finance, engineering, health and outsourcing.
The new list gives 169 critical skills or occupations.
These range from sheep shearer, architect, external auditor, geologist, and solar physicist to boilermaker and pipe fitter.
Also listed as possessing a critical skill are people who are fluent in languages such as German, Flemish, Swedish, Danish, Italian, Mandarin and French.
Last month, Gigaba said that the regulations and critical skills work visas would make it easier for South Africa to secure critical skills from overseas.
“Foreign nationals possessing critical skills can now apply for and be granted a critical skills visa, even without a job, allowing them to enter the country and seek work for a period of up to 12 months,” he said.