South Africans are pouring into these areas and this creates a skills gap

South Africa’s migration patterns over the past five years show that parts of the country are facing skills and service shortages as more people move, the Department of Human Settlements says.

The department’s recently unveiled annual performance plan shows that the Eastern Cape was the biggest loser in this regard, with the province seeing an outflow of -319,665 people between 2016 and 2021. This was followed by Limpopo ( -188.671), KwaZulu-Natal (- 84.367) and the Free State (-29.135).

Gauteng has been the main recipient of migrants with 991,590 people having moved to the province over the past five years. Western Cape (+292.521) and North West (+116.626) follow. Gauteng also saw the largest movement of people moving into and out of the province, the department said.

While the loss of skills and workers is felt by those provinces with high numbers of external migrants, the mass urbanization of Gauteng and parts of the Western Cape has led to a rapid increase in requests for services with the government which has had to quickly reallocate resources for these new residents.

These migration patterns can be attributed in part to the country’s record unemployment rate, with people moving to the more developed provinces of Gauteng and Western Cape in search of opportunities.

Data released by Statistics South Africa on March 29 shows that the country’s official unemployment rate increased by 0.4 percentage points to a record 35.3% in the fourth quarter of last year.

However, the expanded definition of unemployment is currently at 46.2%. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) raised concerns that the country is now crawling towards an expanded unemployment rate of 50%.

“Although the problem of unemployment is related to economic performance in South Africa, the second problem is routed in the mismatch of skills with the needs of the economy,” said the Department of Human Settlements.

“As local industries advance with technological advances and strive for global competitiveness, the capacity development of most South Africans has lagged behind. As a result, the majority remain unemployed.”

Citing data from Statistics South Africa, the department noted that 90% of currently unemployed South Africans have a baccalaureate or not.


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