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South African youth explain why they want to leave the country

AN large number of South Africans are emigrating of the country in search of better opportunities abroad.

This has led to a worrying trend of wealth and skills leaving our borders – with young South Africans marked as the most likely to make the leap to the outside.

News24 urged South African youth to explain your reasons for wanting to leave the country and what would have to be different for them to stay or to return to their country of birth.

The publication received several responses – from managers and IT engineers to students and the unemployed, which has become a recurring theme for many in a country with a stagnant growth rate.

The current unemployment rate in the country is 27.1%, according to StatsSA, while the unemployment rate among eligible citizens in the labor market, aged between 15 and 24 years, is 54.7%.

As a result, several interviewees expressed their disappointment about the country's future as we approach elections next month. Many have identified the following central themes for wanting to leave:

  • Inability to find a job;
  • Corruption;
  • Crime and security;
  • BBBEE and Affirmative Action;
  • Lack of a future.

"I do not want to leave, but in a competitive job market with equal employment goals I had no other choice," a letter said.

"I love my country, Ntate Ramaphosa, but the deliberate disrespect of state resources being plundered and abused by democratically elected officials is discouraging to watch from the periphery," another wrote.

"To stay, I would need encouragement. Although verbal encouragement helps, I need it in action. Instead of being ordered to stay, it would need to be shown. I showed that I wanted to, "said another.

Big jump in South Africans looking to leave

FNB real estate strategist John Loos said there has been a steady increase in the number of South Africans who are selling their homes for reasons related to emigration – 2% in 2013 to 10% by the end of 2018.

One of the biggest reasons for leaving is the labor market, with a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showing that more young South African professionals are willing to move to work compared to their contemporaries from the rest of the world.

The survey showed that 71% of South African respondents (young and working professionals) said they were willing to move to work.

The study also showed that the willingness of South Africans to move increased from 64% in 2014.

"The research revealed some idiosyncrasies among the young professionals working in South Africa," said Stefano Niavas, partner and MD of BCG in South Africa.

"More people are willing to travel overseas for work and see it as an opportunity to improve their skills and secure their careers.

"Many multinationals can offer exactly what these young people are looking for, both in the international markets and in South Africa," he said.

According to the study, the US continues to be the most favorable workplace for South Africans – even amid the volatility of its national policy – followed by Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany.

Popular destinations

American Think Tank, Pew Research, estimates that at least 900,000 people born in South Africa lived in other countries in 2017.

Angel Jones, CEO of Homecoming Revolution, a recruitment firm specializing in "brain gains" that brings African global talent back to the continent, believes that this figure is likely to be closer to three times as high (more than 2,700,000).

Alarmingly, many of these people are skilled and educated, resulting in a major brain drain.

The Department of Home Affairs does not keep records of permanently emigrating South Africans; however, host countries monitor immigrants, which gives an indication of how many people are actually leaving.

Countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia are popular destinations for skilled South Africans looking for an opportunity to advance their careers, or create new beginnings for their family – in particular, many feel that South Africa's economy shows no signs of improving in the short term.

It is a report by the South African Business Observatory (EOSA), shows that South Africa's financial and business sector has shrunk dramatically in the last decade. The report has suggested that up to 400,000 high-income professionals have emigrated from South Africa since 1994.

Johannes Wessels of the EOSA told Bruce Whitfield of 702 that the 2017 government migration document found that for every South African returning to the country, eight are leaving.

The same white paper showed that the The average number of black professionals leaving the country exceeds the number of white South Africans who, he said.

"The economy is clearly a major driver, as is the security situation and high levels of crime," Wessels said.

"At the World Economic Forum Index, the cost of crime in business in South Africa is the fifth highest in the world – behind only countries like Venezuela. It is a very difficult position for companies to operate and for professionals to make a contribution, "he said.

Presidential appeal

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently said that there is a place in South Africa for all the people who live in it. He urged young white South Africans not to leave the country in a pre-election campaign in Stellenbosch earlier this month.

"I do not want whites, young South Africans to leave the country. And if I can, I'll tie them up in a tree and tell them not to leave, I want you here in this country.

He said the fears many white South Africans have of not being sought "are not entirely true." "There is a place, there is room for all of us," said the president.

Ramaphosa has tried to ease fears over the changes in South Africa's agrarian reform by saying that this will be done according to our Constitution.

"It's not going to be a land grab," he said.

Read: Good news for South Africans who want to move to the UK: specialist

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