South Africa’s brain drain – A first-hand example

South Africa is currently experiencing a massive brain drain, with educated and skilled individuals leaving the country every year to live and work overseas.

The issue is so pervasive that many large companies have started to notice the impact on staff – including Momentum Investments, which said earlier this year that South Africans are leaving the country in “big numbers”.

According to research, the main reasons for people leaving are corruption and crime.

This has a negative impact on the country in multiple ways, including a decline in tax revenues, a skills shortage, and a loss in critical health and education services.

It is not only crime and corruption causing South Africans to leave the country, however, as MyBroadband discovered when speaking to a young South African who is emigrating in early 2021.

I applied for over 20 jobs

Ryan* is a 25-year-old resident of Johannesburg who will qualify as a Chartered Accountant (CA) at the end of the year, and currently works for one of the country’s Big Four auditing firms.

After receiving multiple distinctions at school, he went on to study Accounting Sciences at a university in Gauteng – where he received a Golden Key award.

Ryan then finished a post-graduate degree in accounting and went straight into working for one of the Big Four firms.

Having now passed both his board exams, and with his articles set to be completed at the end of the year, Ryan recently started his search for a job in South Africa.

“​I applied for various positions to stay on locally in the company I currently work for. I did not manage to get an interview,” Ryan told MyBroadband.

“I also did not receive any verbal feedback, and it was mostly just an email saying that my application was unsuccessful,” he said, adding that the application and feedback process was a slow one.

Following this lack of success, he then applied for “newly qualified CA” jobs on LinkedIn.

“In total, I probably applied for around 20 jobs on LinkedIn. Even to this day, I have not received an invitation for an interview.”

“For a few of these jobs, I did receive email responses saying my application was unsuccessful.”

Applying overseas

With no success locally, Ryan decided to apply for a job in Europe – as he had been told that companies in the EU are open to employing qualified South Africans.

“I applied for positions in five European countries and mostly applied to branches of the company I currently work for,” said Ryan.

The response was almost immediate, and after applying for one of the job openings he received a call from the HR manager confirming they would like to hold an interview with him.

“The interview was scheduled for the following week. The day after the interview took place, I received a job offer from the firm,” said Ryan.

Come early 2021, Ryan will be emigrating to Europe to work full-time in his new job.

This was not his initial plan, and Ryan reiterated that he wanted to stay in South Africa to pursue his career.

The lack of opportunities locally, however, forced him to look outside of the country.

“​I truly love South Africa and this will always be home, but I am excited to be going overseas, and being exposed to new industries and new cultures,” he said.

*Not his real name. The individual has requested to remain anonymous.

Now read: Only 28% of learners take mathematics in South Africa

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South Africa’s brain drain – A first-hand example