An alternative perspective on the emigration of highly skilled people from South Africa

An alternative perspective on the emigration of highly skilled people from South Africa

Emigra¤tion of highly skilled people has become an increasing concern in South Africa in recent years. While it is uncontested that there has been skilled emigrati¤on from South Africa, reliable and up-to-date figures on the extent of this emigra¤on are not available.

At the country level, a net loss of highly skilled people leads to a brain drain, which has nega¤ve effects on the future development and growth of the economy. At the company level, any net ouflow of highly skilled people exacerbates difficulti¤es to recruit, or replace, the highly skilled staff increasingly needed as South Africa’s economy becomes more specialised and service orientated.

This policy brief takes a different focus and argues that emigrati¤on does not have detrimental effects only, but that highly skilled people can exert a posi¤tive influence on the growth and economic development, even when they do not reside in the country anymore. It recommends that South Africa resumes its efforts to tap into the huge potenti¤al associated with the large, highly skilled expatriate communi¤ties in numerous countries.

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