More young SA professionals see better career prospects overseas

Mzansi's global attractiveness slips

13 February 2019 - 12:55 By TimesLIVE
Fewer foreign career professionals see SA as a desirable place to work, and a worrying 71% of young South African professionals say they would be willing to work overseas.
Fewer foreign career professionals see SA as a desirable place to work, and a worrying 71% of young South African professionals say they would be willing to work overseas.
Image: Nasief Manie / X00388 / AFP

More young South African working professionals are willing to relocate for work compared to their contemporaries around the rest of the world but, disturbingly, fewer professionals want to come here.

This is according to a new global survey by the The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network, in association with CareerJunction. The study, which surveyed 366,000 job seekers and 6,000 recruiters in 197 countries, was conducted to determine mobility preferences of talent around the world, reasons to move abroad and key elements that job seekers want in a job.

Overall, 57% of people said that they would move to another country for work. This number, however, is much greater for South Africans, where 71% of the young and working professionals surveyed said they were willing to relocate for work. This has increased from 2014 when 64% of South Africans said they would be willing to relocate.

Similarly, SA has slipped as a desirable place to work. Of the 198 participating countries, SA ranked at #40, compared with #27 in 2014.

African countries that indicated a desire to work in SA include Angola in top position, followed by Ivory Coast, Kenya, Benin, Ghana (down four places since 2014), Cameroon and Nigeria (down five places from 2014), among others.

South Africans keen to work abroad are focusing on career development.

"The research revealed quite a few idiosyncrasies among young working South African professionals. More of them are willing to travel abroad for work and see it as an opportunity to improve their skills and secure their careers," said Stefano Niavas, partner and MD at BCG in SA.

According to the study, the US remains the most favourable work location for South Africans - even amid the volatility of its national politics - followed by Australia, the UK, Canada and Germany.

New Zealand, the UAE, France, China and Switzerland also fell into the top 10 most desirable countries in which to work.

Comparing 2018 findings to those of 2014, China moved up 23 places, indicating a growing desire among South Africans to work there.

South Africans also seem to have unique work preferences compared to the rest of the globe. While respondents around the globe listed things like "good relationships with colleagues" and "good relationships with superiors" as top motivating factors for relocating, SA respondents tend to value "career development possibilities" and "learning and skills training" more.

"Good work-life balance," however, was listed in the top three motivating factors for South Africans and the rest of the world - a factor that may be problematic for those travelling to places such as the US, where long working days and limited leave are  known factors.

Other factors that are listed as important for South Africans include "job security" and "company values".

The survey authors stated: "This comes as no surprise given SA’s high unemployment rate and, ultimately, the competitive nature of SA's job market."


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