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‘Fix the economy’ - warns institute amid study showing high number of South African want to emigrate

The Inclusive Society Institute has urged government to grow the ailing South African to stop brain drain after a study showed that 10 percent of South Africans consider emigrating for better opportunities. (AP Photo/Mujahid Safodien)

The Inclusive Society Institute has urged government to grow the ailing South African to stop brain drain after a study showed that 10 percent of South Africans consider emigrating for better opportunities. (AP Photo/Mujahid Safodien)

Published May 13, 2022

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Pretoria – The Inclusive Society Institute on Friday said findings of its study which shows that over 10% of South Africans are considering relocation to developed nations, in pursuit of economic opportunity, should sound the alarm call for government to fix the economy.

The Institute’s chief executive Daryl Swanepoel said it should be highlighted that South Africans are not considering migrating because of “hating their country” but are drawn by economic prospects, which means they would stay if the economic downturn is addressed.

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“I think the message is a wake-up call that we are going to lose the skills if we do not create the job opportunities. It needs to be the economy above all. If we put the economy on the right growth trajectory, then I believe we will change the minds of the people [who want to migrate],” Swanepoel told broadcaster eNCA.

“The positive out of this study is that it is not dislike for their country, it is not political considerations but it is the fact that they want to improve their lives. There’s an easy fix if you grow the economy.”

He said the 10 percent figure is for “all South Africans” considering emigrating, but the figure is higher when educated and highly-earning citizens are considered.

“The figure of 10 percent is actually for all South Africans. If you look at the highest educated and the top earners in the country then that statistic climbs to nearly 12 percent. This is extremely worrying, given that South Africa is facing a massive skills shortage,” said Swanepoel.

“We have also done some economic research and we have engaged all the sectors, and almost every sector has raised the point that one of their top priorities is lack of skills in the country.”

The study was commissioned by the Inclusive Society Institute late last year.

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The study found that 11.13% of South Africans with higher education indicated that they were seriously considering emigrating to another country in the next year or two.

The survey also pointed out that the main reason for emigration was for economic opportunities, and there was little evidence to suggest that the migration was driven by politics, race or cultural assimilation. Only 1.76 of respondents stated political issues as the reason for them to want to emigrate.

English-speaking countries were highly considered as destinations by the South Africans, with 23.88% considering the US, 14.87% wanting to emigrate to the UK, 9.94% to Germany, 6.32% to Canada and 4.96% to Australia.

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