In the recent Financial Mail (April 25), an article on the ‘Brain Drain’, and whether it still exists, caught my eye. Are executives coming home or not? Various parties were slinging mud at one another regarding the data around returning South Africans – on the one hand it seems that there is a perception that South Africans abroad are returning back to the homeland in greater proportion to those leaving; the opposing view is that this is simply not the case, and there is an ongoing trend of more professional South Africans emigrating or settling abroad for an extended period.
Frankly, I am not able to verify either view. However, what I can certainly comment on is how challenging it is for professionals abroad to find great jobs back in the SA market. And not because they are lacking in skills and experience (frequently they have acquired superb skills which can add value to South African organisations). The primary reason for the challenges experienced by hope-to-return-if-I-land-a-good-job South Africans, is that companies apply the same criteria to all potential candidates for key roles.
And that is: At an executive level, South African companies are looking for the full package! Great skills, excellent experience acquired at reputable organisations, demonstrable track records of achievement, and then the always-in-demand ‘leadership qualities’, EQ, and the right ‘fit’ for the company. All this, at the right price.
Which right now, with the weak Rand, means that it’s almost impossible to match offshore salary packages, let alone offer attractive increases.
So, anecdotally, I can confirm that I receive many CV’s from South Africans abroad stating their intent and desire to return home. Anecdotally I can also confirm that far far fewer actually do.
Sad, but true.