Where South Africans are looking to work overseas

The most popular destinations for South Africans willing to work abroad include the United States, the UK, and Australia.

This is according to the Decoding Global Talent, Onsite and Virtual report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which encompassed almost 209,000 participants in 190 countries.

The study was conducted together with a network of partners of partners, including CareerJunction, and surveyed 1,421 respondents in South Africa.

One of the leading trends of the study was that people worldwide were less interested in working abroad, with more interested in working remotely for international countries.

Only 59% of South Africans are willing to move to another country for work, which is down from a 72% willingness level in 2018.

Young and highly educated South Africans aren’t willing to move abroad either – only 56% of young people and 61% of highly educated people in the country said they would be willing to relocate.

“This is in line with the global trend of decreasing mobility – which is likely due to the pandemic, but also because of tighter immigration and less welcoming policies by some of the big destination markets,” said BCG Johannesburg principal and recruiting director Rudi van Blerk.

South Africans in sought-after job roles are still keen to move abroad for work, however.

These sectors include digitalisation and automation (85%), science and research (78%), law (76%), and IT (74%).

“This could indicate a risk of brain drain in these fields, where employers typically struggle to fill roles,” van Blerk said.

Where South Africans want to work

The United States remains the number one destination where people from South Africa want to move to, but the next most popular destinations have changed over the past years.

The United Kingdom overtook Australia for second place, and New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates are also more popular targets than 2018, moving up a spot to fifth and sixth respectively.

“This is also in line with global trends, with Asian and Middle East destinations growing in popularity, likely due to their comparably better management of COVID,” van Blerk said.

The US, UK and Australia are also the top destinations where South Africans would look for remote employers.

South Africans interested in working overseas

The infographic below shows the most popular destinations for South Africans who want to work abroad, as well as which job roles are most interested in working overseas.

Working abroad

Working abroad by job role

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Where South Africans are looking to work overseas