Technical Report

A Technical Report for the 2020 Critical Skills List

Finding the correct balance is essential. If critical skills work permits are offered too liberally, they risk taking employment opportunities away from South African citizens. Conversely, if these permits are too strictly withheld, skills gaps are perpetuated at the expense of the South African economy. Achieving this balance is largely dependent on accurately defining a critical skill

Labour Market Intelligence research programme


As a result of globalisation, climate change mitigation, and digital transformation, skills must evolve more rapidly than ever before. These rapid economic shifts often create skill shortages and mismatches within labour markets.  Although there are many medium- and long-term solutions, short-term interventions are often required.  Providing immigration preference to appropriately skilled foreign nationals is one such intervention.  

The Critical Skills List formalises the process.  This report presents the preliminary list which is intended to go through a finalisation process led by the Department of Home Affairs.  A criteria-based filtering approach was employed to identify occupations appropriate for the CSL.  Through this approach, occupations were identified that were in acute shortage or strategically important to the South African economy.  They also required high-level skills or advanced qualifications and would require a long lead-time to develop a domestic supply chain.  Once identified, the list was validated through interviews and workshops with various public and private sector representatives and stakeholders.

This publication covers

  • Introduction to the Critical Skills List
  • Conceptualising the criteria for CSL inclusion
  • Methodology for identifying occupations
  • Analysis of results
  • Presenting the preliminary CSL