European companies warn that a lack of skilled workers endangers expansion plans and jobs in a country where a third of people are unemployed.
In one of the world’s most unequal nations an acute shortage of skilled workers is restraining already tepid growth, limiting job creation and pushing some foreign investors to think about moving their money elsewhere.
This skills shortage has been identified by the South African presidency as the second biggest impediment to economic growth, after crippling power outages. Yet the government department that could resolve the problem, home affairs, has been accused of exacerbating it by failing to deal with a visa system that appears to be causing self-inflicted damage on the economy.
Skilled worker shortages are most acute in areas such as engineering, science, information technology and management-level personnel, according to a government report that called for urgent reform to the visa system.
One business organization, which includes car companies Volkswagen AG and BMW AG has warned that delays in the process — it can take 48 weeks to have a visa application accepted — threaten expansion plans, investment and jobs in South Africa where unemployment is running at 33%.