UNTU Condemns Government’s Visa Regime

The United National Transport Union (UNTU) is concerned that the government’s structural reform agenda to turn around the country’s economy is short-sighted, leaving South Africans, the local workforce, and numerous unemployed citizens out in the cold. UNTU’s concerns follow pronouncements made by Deputy Minister of Finance, David Masondo, at the launch of the Rand Merchant Bank United States in New York on Thursday, May 18, 2023.

UNTU supports structural reforms aimed at propelling economic growth and attracting foreign investment. However, this should not come at the expense of South Africa’s workforce. Employing foreigners and taking away much-needed jobs from South Africans is ludicrous!

Deputy Minister David Masondo mentioned implementing a visa regime to attract skilled immigrants, including a points-based system and the trusted employer scheme. It is concerning that the government’s focus is solely on creating an environment for the private sector to recruit overseas employees, without clear indications of how these skills will be transferred to the local workforce. This is especially concerning given the rising unemployment rate in South Africa, which remains the highest in the world.

South Africa’s alleged critical skills deficit, particularly in the ICT sector, is still an issue. South African employers are recruiting almost 50% of the workforce overseas, as reported in the 2022 JCSE-II TPSA ICT Skills Survey. This highlights the government’s insufficient investment in bridging the critical skills gap and providing employment opportunities for inexperienced graduates. The lack of practical skills enhancement programs within the South African labour environment hampers employment opportunities for new graduates. Consequently, many young professionals qualified in these industries are forced to seek opportunities abroad due to the ailing economy.

It seems that the government’s solution to the shortage of critical skills is for the private sector to hire more immigrants and foreign workers from specific countries only. UNTU questions the government’s short-term plan to address immediate work opportunities for South African citizens and their long-term plan to equip young, qualified professionals with the necessary critical skills.

UNTU believes that importing foreign workers while the current unemployment rate in South Africa exceeds 46% is ludicrous! They further believe that the purported lack of skills in the economy is a result of a lack of forward-thinking, proper planning, and prioritizing political appointments over the interests of the country.

Government should prioritize the country and its people, working on immediate solutions to alleviate poverty, social injustices, and unemployment. This includes addressing the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, ensuring a brighter future for all.

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