The most effective way of alleviating South Africa's crippling skills shortage is to recruit skilled people from abroad, according to policy research institute the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE).
In a report released last week, the centre said that, despite the advent of government's growth strategies such as the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa and the Joint Initiative for Priority Skill Acquisition, government statements on the importation of skills remained "confusing and ambiguous" and also reflected the belief that South Africans should be protected against competition from skilled foreigners.
CDE executive director Ann Bernstein said: "We tend to regard ourselves as victims of the global skills market. If we are to break the stranglehold of the skills shortage on our economy, we need to change our attitude and exploit that market to our own advantage."
The demand for skills has been fuelled by higher rates of economic growth and government's infrastructure spending drive ahead of the 2010 World Cup. And while the country is desperately in need of skills such as engineers, a number of South Africans are turning to the more lucrative global skills market.
The report argued that "immigrant entrepreneurs would create jobs; the importation of key skilled people - such as maths teachers - would equip South Africans with the skills they need and the economy with the skilled people it needs to move to sustainable, higher levels of growth".