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Where are South Africa’s skilled workers going?

A new data map shows which countries South Africa’s highly skilled workforce is moving to – adding to a massive brain drain in the country.

According to the map, published on Code For SA based on data recorded by the OECD in September 2015, almost 47,000 skilled professionals had left South Africa and entered into OECD nations for work.

Of the professionals, most were teachers and education professionals- 17,500. This is followed by health and life science professionals, which saw 10,800 individuals leave.

The data shows that the UK and Australia were the biggest gainers of South African skills – with the UK taking in over 18,500 skilled South Africans, followed by Australia, taking 13,000.


Recent data from FNB showed that the number of people selling their homes in South Africa in order to emigrate, increased steadily in 2015.

A 2015 report by InterNations Expat Insider shed some light on the profile of South African expats, finding that around half of all South African expats are skilled employees or managers – and a quarter identify as being in top management positions.

New World Wealth recently revealed that thousands of South African millionaires – specifically white millionaires – had fled the country in the past year, citing political unrest and safety concerns in their decision to leave.

According to InterNations, 70% of South African expats are generally satisfied with leaving the country, with only 13% feeling dissatisfied with their decision.

These are the countries where skilled South Africans are going – and the most popular destination per skill:

By country

# Country Skilled South Africans
1 United Kingdom 18 581
2 Australia 13 060
3 Canada 7 589
4 Ireland 2 317
5 Portugal 2 097
6 Czech Republic 1 394
7 Sweden 668
8 New Zealand 324
9 Greece 235
10 Switzerland 234
11 France 163
12 Austria 140
13 United States 21
14 Norway 9
15 Germany 8

By skill

Skill Country Skilled South Africans
Teaching UK 10 988
General Managers Canada 2 967
Life science and health professionals UK 3 659
Legislators and senior officials Czech Republic 695
Physical maths and engineering Czech Republic 695

Source: Business Tech


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