Jobs in South Africa

Expat Guide to Working in South Africa

Want to know more about jobs in South Africa, visa categories or work possibilities for expatriates with international work experience? This is one of the most asked questions we get from our readers. South Africa is the largest economy on the African continent. The number of people looking for work is however much bigger than the actual number of jobs in South Africa.

The application process for any work visa category is a major challenge and deters many highly skilled expats from finding jobs in South Africa, even if this country is in dire need for expertise from foreign experts in many professions. The often cited 'skills gap' is growing wider. IT Jobs, jobs in the health or education sector need to be filled with international experts as there is not enough local expertise in these industries.

Engineers, teachers, medical staff and IT specialists will find great job opportunities in South Africa. These are professions which were identified to be in great demand but short supply and therefore being scarce or critical skills in South Africa but needed for economic growth of the country.

Finding a good job in South Africa is a challenge but when you do your homework, work can be found by expats when you offer rare skills, work experience and formal qualifications which are accepted by SAQA

Skills Gap and Jobs in South Africa

There are high numbers of unskilled and semi-skilled workers, so the unemployment rate is high with 26.4% of the population being without jobs (April 2015), but in the countryside the figure is much higher with up to 70% of unemployment depending on the location. However, most of the unemployed are unskilled or are not specialised and experienced enough. Due to the emigration of professionals to foreign shores like Australia and the UK, the gap in the actual local demand and supply of skilled workers is high. Thus South Africa offers employment opportunities for skilled expats from around the world.

South Africa Job Search Tips

Here are some tips how to find a job in South Africa. 

If you are new to the country first get familiar with the industry. Familiarise yourself with the South Africa's business customs, check out the various professional associations  and get in contact with your national Chamber of Commerce in South Africa. 

But first of all get informed about the job market in South Africa for your specific job requirements. Read more on Business Times.

Scan the South African Newspapers for job and placement ads. You may also want to contact the South African business associations and professional organizations in your business sector. It is advisable also to contact international headhunters and discuss your skills and qualifications and find out if they know about any job openings in your industry. Only then, after having checked the realistic situation for finding a job in South Africa in your profession, you should start to get familiar with the visa requirements.

Immigration: Transfer and Work Visa

If you want to work in South Africa, you need a work permit even if you are an accompanying spouse or partner and have already been granted a temporary residency visa. If you have been granted permanent residency or are the holder of a permanent residency visa, you are allowed to work without extra visa. Spouses and life partners of South African citizens need to apply for a work endorsement should they intend to take up a job in South Africa if they in the country on a temporary relative's visa.

However, as an expat in general, you will need a work permit for being able to work in Cape Town or find a job in Cape Town. There are no work seekers permits available in South Africa, but if you have been granted a critical skills visa you need to only present your job offer after arrival in South Africa.

If you have critical skills needed in the country and a company is willing to sponsor your work visa application and provides a written offer of employment, you can apply for this visa at the South African Department of Home Affairs.

More info about Critical Skills visa here.

Companies who send their employees abroad via intra-company transfers or secondments can obtain visa for these employees via the High Commissions and South African missions abroad.

ExpatCapeTown Advice: Contact the embassy or visa facilitation centre in your home country as early as possible and hand in your firm job offer and all the other necessary documents relating to a work permit there. 

Classifieds: Jobs in South Africa

You also can post your own ad or find job offers on: 


Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an immigration or labour lawyer to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem regarding your immigration/work visa/work contract in South Africa.

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