Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Skilled professionals are deserting in droves

As Mbeki tries to bring a sense of direction to the issues troubling South Africans, it has emerged that large numbers of skilled professionals are considering leaving the country.

This was confirmed by estate agents, removal companies and immigration consultants.

One of them, emigration lawyer Eden Joubert, said people inquiring about quitting South Africa were "split across the race spectrum".

Many of them were highly qualified professionals, including engineers, who had a potential to start a new life in another country with ease.

Robert Wakeling, of the 4G consulting and international technical recruitment agency, said demand for South African engineers in the international market had doubled in the past five years. "The skills pool in the country is getting smaller," he said.

The Seeff Properties Group had experienced a rush of people looking for evaluation of their properties this year, according to chairperson Samuel Seeff. His company had received 50 percent more inquiries compared to the same period last year.

"I believe there is a negative sentiment brought about by uncertainty of what the future holds," said Seeff.

Ronald Ennik, managing director of Pam Golding Properties, said the company had seen a rise in evaluations in the market in 2008 - "but we cannot say this is because people want to leave the country".

Joubert said many of his clients had lost confidence in the government. "People are worried about the future of their children, their properties and generally about their lifestyles," he said.

Carla Rodrigues-Schoeman, co-ordinator of Master Movers International, said that since 2004 the company had issued over 700 quotations to clients wanting to move abroad. "Most of these people are skilled, middle to upper class. Some are doctors, veterinarians, boiler makers and engineers - mostly whites."

King International Movers general manager Rolf Lamers concurred. "Things have suddenly picked up in the export shipments. We are currently doing four times as many jobs as we did in January of the past year," he said.

Lamers added that many of his clients had cited the current power crisis as a major contributing factor. "It is a story of doom and gloom if you look at who these people are," he said.

"Although all my clients are overwhelmingly English-speaking white folks, there are coloureds and Indian professionals moving abroad as well."

But Martin Westhuizen, managing director of Pickfords International Moving and Relocation, said people were increasingly moving abroad for better opportunities and lifestyles. "A number of these people ... keep their properties and are still returning home," he noted.

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