CDE comments on the Green Paper on International Migration

While CDE applauds the Department of Home Affairs’ attempt to open up debate on new policies for migration management, we believe that proposals for skilled immigration do not go far enough. The central point is the need to grow the economy and not simply service existing needs. Instead of worrying, as in the past, about whether we might end up with too many engineers, we need to aggressively recruit skilled people in order to dramatically increase the size of the economy, remembering that skilled and entrepreneurial people, whether immigrant or local, create jobs for unskilled people too. This is vital for economic development, and must be based on a far better understanding of the domestic and global labour markets, in particular that the more skills we have the bigger and more dynamic our economy will be, and people will find ways to use their skills productively. In practice, this means that South Africa needs to welcome anyone with skills who wishes to migrate to this country, with a minimum of conditions. This should include anyone with formal tertiary qualifications from a recognised institution, as well as people with entrepreneurial abilities. Moreover, our need for entrepreneurs is not confined to large investors; we should also welcome smaller entrepreneurs who want to start new businesses in this country, and have the drive and expertise to do so. Before any of this can happen, however, there has to be a commitment at the highest level of government to face up to the politics of skilled immigration and to understand why there is resistance to it.