Survey Shows Over Half of South Africa’s Graduates Considering Emigration

A survey in South Africa shows more than half of graduates are considering moving to another country because of few opportunities at home. Business Unity South Africa, which represents the private sector, says they are seeing the lowest levels of confidence in the country’s future since World War II.

The survey was conducted by the Social Research Foundation which calls itself a start-up think tank. Its director Frans Cronje dismissed social media criticism, which said it is funded by the main opposition Democratic Alliance Party.

Cronje says they are privately funded and not affiliated with any organization. He says his pollsters surveyed just over 3,000 people.

“On the question of emigration, what it identifies is that roughly a quarter of adult South Africans are considering emigration and that figure rises pretty steeply as you go to the top echelons of the skills base,” he said. “So, university graduates figure comes in at around 50 percent and also top earners.”

Cronje says the emigration figures are in line with other public opinion research the foundation has recently conducted.

“And this is all very consistent with broader public opinion based on South Africa, which shows that in response to tough economic circumstances and an increasingly troubling outlook towards the political future of the country, levels of concern about the long-term future have hit rates that I haven’t seen in 20 years of doing this stuff.”

Joshua Jacobs has been looking for a job since graduating from college last year. He is considering emigrating to Vietnam or South Korea to teach English, even though it is not what he studied.

“It’s quite dire at the moment. It doesn’t look like there’s an opportunity,” said Jacobs. ”I have a few friends who have already gone over and, based on what they are experiencing, it seems like way more viable than being here.”

Jacobs says he studied for three years and graduated with a degree in human resources management last year.

“I’ve been looking more or less in my field, but no luck there,” he said. “It is a weird position that I’m in. Because when I started studying, the market was a bit better in terms of HR, whereas now it doesn’t seem like there’s the same opportunities. The ones that there are, the pay has decreased and the experience needed has now increased.”

Bonang Mohale, president of Business Unity South Africa, says he thinks it’s regrettable when a country cannot hold onto the future workers in whom it’s invested so much.

He asks, what will happen if graduates leave in droves?

“The economy is already on its knees. It will further exacerbate the condition.”

The Social Research Foundation is planning follow-up research.

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