Fighting Brain Drain in SA

South African developers and IT workers have built quite a reputation for themselves overseas — much to the chagrin of local businesses.

“There’s a severe drain on our IT skills as more and more qualified IT personnel are being lured out of the country,” noted Org Geldenhuys, a director of IT consultancy, Abacus Recruitment. “Our top IT workers and developers are increasingly sought after because of their high levels of training, their hard-working ethics and their ability to speak the world’s main business language — English.”

According to Statistics SA, the net outflow of people from South Africa currently stands at around 4,000-8,402 emigrants against 3,669 immigrants. In reality, opine many migration experts, the number of migrants is easily three times higher than official numbers.

Amongst emigrants are numerous systems security personnel, systems architects, and networking technicians as well as programmers skilled in Visual Basic, C/C++, Oracle,Java, and most Net-related development languages whose skills are in high demand overseas.

“There is an old joke in Sydney Harbour,” quips Geldenhuys, “when office lights are burning in the high rise buildings locals point to the lights, half-jokingly, saying that when business lights burn late at night it is South Africans working.”

He noted that South African workers have a reputation as quick adapters — often achieving salary hikes that outstrip their fellow employees. “This, of course, doesn’t always make them popular with local employees,” he chuckled.

Although South Africa is generally described as a developing economy, Geldenhuys points out that our information technology and banking sectors are fairly advanced, making workers in these sectors an attractive target for first-world head-hunters.

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