Returning African Diaspora: New Source of Job Skills

Returning African Diaspora: New Source of Job Skills

Faced with a small pool of skilled local labor, companies in sub-Saharan Africa are starting to look at the returning African diaspora as a cheaper and more effective solution than filling skills gaps with expatriates, according to a report in Mail&Guardian.

Expatriates are becoming less desirable in sub-Saharan Africa because of the high salaries they command, according to a survey published by EY (formerly Ernst & Young). The survey, titled “Realising potential – sub-Saharan Africa talent trends and practices,” involved 224 companies in 23 sub-Saharan African countries.

About one in three expatriates in executive positions and one in five in other positions earn three times more than their local counterparts, according to the survey.

“Apart from their cheaper costs, the returning African diaspora is attractive for their knowledge of their country of origin, the ease of their cultural acclimatisation, and their ability to effectively bridge their Western, European and African experiences,” said David Storey, EY’s people and change leader for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa,  in Mail&Guardian.

However Storey warned that companies “must recognize the diaspora as a distinct group of potential employees that is neither local nor expatriate, and as such requires a proper understanding of their motivations and needs that finds expression in the way that they are recruited, paid, incentivized, and retained.”

An estimated 359,000 high-skilled South Africans have returned to South Africa from other parts of the world since 2008 and have been absorbed into the labor force, said Adcorp, South Africa’s largest diversified workforce management and business outsourcing company in its  December 2013 employment index, Mail&Guardian reports.

The Homecoming Revolution, an online platform that works to bring home African diaspora professionals, estimates that 340,000 professional South Africans have returned home in the past 10 years.

South Africa’s department of home affairs no longer keeps records of comprehensive immigration and emigration statistics, the Mail&Guardian report said.

According to a survey published by EY, 27 percent of the companies surveyed have medium-to-high expectations of recruiting from the returning African diaspora in the future as opposed to 10 percent at present.

Fifty-three percent of participants anticipate a lower or significantly lower demand for expatriate skills in the next 12 months, EY said in a statement Monday, Mail&Guardian reports.