South Africa


No fanfare, but South Africa finally has a critical skills work visa list

No fanfare, but South Africa finally has a critical skills work visa list
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Alon Skuy). A crane moves building materials at a ShanDong ZhongJiao Navigation Engineering Co construction site. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images). President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Raath)

President Cyril Ramaphosa can tick as delivered the critical skills visa list when he delivers Thursday’s State of the Nation Address. Months late and more a transitional arrangement than the expected wholesale review, it’s a case of better late than never.

Caravan park and campground manager is no longer on the final critical skills visa list of 101 occupations signed off by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on 2 February 2022 and published in the Government Gazette.

That particular job, alongside others such as dock master, but also registered mental and child and family health nurses, have dropped off the draft list published just before President Cyril Ramaphosa gave his reply to the 2021 State of the Nation Address (Sona) after the parliamentary debate on 16 February.

A few days earlier, on 11 February, that critical skills visa list was one of the undertakings of Ramaphosa as he delivered the address.

“The revised list of critical skills will be published for public comment by the Department of Home Affairs, within one week, to ensure that the final version reflects the skills needed by the economy.”

In mid-October 2020, Ramaphosa had announced South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, which lists as one of the accelerated reforms for implementation the “approval of the recently reviewed list of critical skills”. 

Business had been pushing for this critical skills list that facilitates work visa processes as part of immigration reform, one of several structural reforms for economic growth. For months and months, consultations unfolded at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), which brings together the government, business, community and labour. 

When, mid-February 2021, Motsoaledi published a draft critical skills list, the public comment deadline was the end of March 2021 and the final critical skills list was meant to be ready in late September 2021, according to government timelines seen by Daily Maverick.

The final critical skills list finally was published in the Government Gazette on 2 February 2022. And it came with a ministerial directive, also to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, headed “Ministerial Immigration Directive No. 1 of 2022, Implementation of the critical skills list”.

Under the heading “Transitional Arrangements”, the ministerial directions say critical skills visas issued on the previous 2014 list “shall continue to be in force and effect… but may only be renewed in terms of the 2022 list”.

From 1 February 2022, a critical skills work visa application must be accompanied by “a solid offer of employment”; it would not just be issued for a year. 

Home Affairs would still process those applications already submitted based on the 2014 critical skills list, but now all applications must be based on the new February 2022 list.

Still, says Motsoaledi, “a holder of a valid critical skills work visa issued in terms of the 2014 list may apply for permanent residence from the date upon which he or she qualifies to apply”.

That 2022 critical skills list is sharp and focused on 101 scarcities.

From directors and general managers for medium and large enterprises, to call centre managers and multilingual agents, the 2022 list of 101 critical skills also includes various types of engineers including chemical, mechanical, industrial, energy and aeronautical. 

Among South Africa’s scarce skills are economists, town planners, zoologists, chemists, physicists, geologists and environmental and climate change scientists.

From auditors, including the forensics kind, and tax professionals, to various information technology and data specialists, including web and media designers, the list also includes policy and planning analysts and managers.

Meanwhile, registered nurses in various health fields have made way for “nurse educator”, while FET (Further Education and Training) college principals have been replaced by “FET teachers” on the 2022 final critical skills list, even as FETs long ago have made way for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. 

The presidential Sonas seem to have become a delivery pressure point for Cabinet ministers, several of whom this week hit the road to chat with communities in what government lingo calls “outreach programmes in the build-up” to Sona.

That this critical skills list now is published with implementation arrangements, even if transitional, is a crucial step forward for the Ramaphosa administration – and its proclaimed economic reform, recovery and reconstruction programme.

Perhaps given the hyped build-up to Thursday’s presidential Sona, the home affairs minister didn’t want to take the wind out of Ramphosa’s sails. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Clyde Smith says:

    Caravan Park and Campground Manager no longer on the critical skills list?
    That’s a shame – it cries out for a skilled minister such as Lindiwe Sisulu. I would petition that facsimile of a president, Squirrel Ramaphosa, to re-assign her to the campground in Hotazel on 1% of her current salary. What’s more, the legal complexity of campgrounds deserves the full-time scrutiny of a Dali Mpofu – together these two stalwarts of the struggle to become filthy rich can stamp their authority on that corner of the country and make us all proud.

    • Charles Parr says:

      Do you really want to have to pay a huger fee simply to get into a camp ground? Because with hangers-on like that I’m sure that’s all you’ll get. Oh, and take your own shovel and porta-loo to make your stay more comfy.

  • Dhasagan Pillay says:

    Now things get interesting:
    the remote creative boom, (now that everyone is acting like covid is over) FDI promises, and the G20 pension of those awful power stations should see us in a better position than a lot of angry rich people complaining about our failed state to everyone but some of their black friends will say.
    Let’s hope the momentum isn’t derailed by a letter from the caucus of stalwarts, currently in the struggle to pay off their Bugattis, asking how they’ll get their cut from labour brokers, head hunters and talent agencies filling the list.

  • Timothy Van Blerck says:

    I see they publish the gazette as PDFs as images and not text making it extremely difficult to index and search

  • Brian Cotter says:

    Coal Fired Power Station engineers with 20 years experience? How does this cut across BBEEE requirements?

  • Hiram C Potts says:

    The critical skills shortage is a crisis engineered (excuse the pun) by the ANC through inept cadre deployment, BEE policies & the stampede to get to the feeding trough once these thieving clowns were in place.

    None of this would’ve been necessary if they had applied the simple maxim of the best person for the job.

    Too late, the horse has bolted, we’ve lost too many skilled people, incl. all of those with the skills that they’re now trying to attract. Moronic or what?

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.