Global Economic Crisis Brings Skills Opportunity for South Africa

Article excerpt

BYLINE: Leon Isaacson

Although the current economic crisis has led to large numbers of job losses across the world, it also brings with it an opportunity for South Africa to recruit the foreign skills it needs to build up critical industries such as IT, construction, engineering and education over the next few years.

As a result of the credit crisis last year - when governments around the world had to step in and guarantee some two trillion US dollars to stabilise their economies - many shaky companies and industries were exposed or left with inventory that could not be sold, such as thousands of new vehicles.

The rapid decline in many sectors caught the business world |unawares.

Until the middle of 2008 there was nothing untoward indicated in the forecasts for the world economy, except that crude oil prices seemed to be on an upward spiral at US$140 (the price currently stands at US$40), commodity prices were high, and there were murmurs of possible problems in the US housing market.

Employment opportunities at that time seemed to be abundant, with demand in many sectors far outstripping supply. South Africa had several programmes in place to attract skilled foreigners to work here because the economic growth rate, loss of qualified people through emigration, and a poor education and training system had combined to create a situation in which skills required across the economic spectrum, and in several critical sectors in particular, could not be found locally. …