As a firm specializing in market research and data analysis through surveys, feasibility studies, polls, among others, we hope to bring valuable insights through today’s article as we focus on how the country has made strides towards localisation of posts previously held by non-citizens. In fact, the progress with localisation is so noticeable as the number of work permits has reached rock bottom to a paltry 3 779 as compared to 11 062 in 2012.
According to a recently released report by the national research authority, Statistics Botswana titled Work Permits Holders Stats Brief Quarter 2, 2021 the national statistician reports that, ‘There were 3,779 valid work permit holders as of end of September 2021. Employed persons accounted for 80.8 percent (3,055) while Self-employed persons accounted for 19.2 percent (724). Overall, there were more male than female work permit holders at 75.4 percent and 24.6 percent, respectively.’
Why work permits?
Work permits are needed for expatriate employees who have skills which are not easily accessible from Botswana. In fact, most countries utilise expatriate skills to develop their economies into new industries or endeavours, which usually require lots of experience. The country recently undertook an exercise to improve Botswana’s ease of doing business and the rapid processing of work permits was identified as a priority area. This also explains why BITC has a one-stop-shop arrangement where foreign investors are facilitated to, among others, obtain work permits faster. Countries such as South Africa and Canada make use of expatriate skills to bolster their competitive advantage and this explains why South Africa leads the region both in terms of skilled personnel and manufactured products.
Localisation gains traction
However, in order to ensure that skills are transferred to locals, the country requires that employees who are awarded permits must be understudied by a citizen who must eventually take over their job. However, localisation is not a requirement for self-employed persons as they create employment for citizens. In fact, the mentioned report attests to the fact that, ‘Information on work permit holders gives an indication of the posts which are occupied by foreigners for monitoring progress in localization.’ The window of foreign skills must ideally be temporary such that with time, foreign workers are replaced by citizens. However, it is known that disciplines such as accountancy have for decades struggled to fill the vacant jobs through citizen employees. In fact, that industry still struggles to even import skills as globally, the number of accountants is lower than the demand. For the foreseeable future, that sector may be reliant on imported skills.
Other key highlights from the report are that employees constitute 80.8 percent of the work permits whilst the remainder goes to entrepreneurs. The said report further states that, ‘There were 3,779 valid work permit holders as of end of September 2021. Employed persons accounted for 80.8 percent (3,055) while Self-employed persons accounted for 19.2 percent (724).’ The report also shows that South Africa has the largest number of self-employed persons, followed by those of Asian origin with Zimbabwe standing at third position.
It’s all about research
If you were asking why a research firm like us is interested in the work permits data, here is why this is key to what we do. Firstly, we are called Data Collection and Analysis, which means that we must be the source for pertinent data in the country. Secondly, we must state that the numbers provided by Statistics Botswana come from research work. Lastly, we need these statistics to assist future clients who may need to know the skills set of the country. Ok now, that goes to show that research fits squarely into this whole analogy.
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