In the past six weeks, quite a few things have happened. I travelled to Dublin to take part in our industry’s biggest conference, the Department of Home Affairs introduced their ideas for the Trusted Employer Scheme and some significant practical changes, loadshedding worsened, and our lawsuit for outstanding Permanent Residence applications is finally bearing fruit.
At the end of April, I travelled to Dublin, Ireland for 10 days, for the EuRA Conference of 2023.
Before the conference I was joined by two of my five remaining university friends for a weekend. One could not get away from work unfortunately, one was busy, and the third was on Elternzeit travelling with his bus through Europe.
We have made a nice habit of always meeting each other either before or directly after the EuRA conference. Thanks to these events, we have met and explored cities like Edinburgh, Porto, Warsaw, Valetta, Munich, and Dubrovnik.
Besides the obligatory pub tour, we enjoyed traditional Irish folk music, visited Trinity College (the book of Kelts was not worth the visit), and did an extensive 5-hour private city guided walking tour, despite the rain it was an awesome experience.
Dublin is not a beautiful city; it has lots of charm though. 800 years of British occupancy left the country and the city impoverished. It shows in the buildings, neighbouring buildings barely look alike, and you can certainly tell that all their wealth was to be found in London.
The warm and friendly Irish makes up for that. One often forgets that Ireland was bitterly poor when joining the EU in the 70s. Looking at it now, you can see what free trade and good governance can do for a country and its citizens (all voters in Africa, please take note of that AND act accordingly, please).
In Europe, only tiny Luxembourg is richer, and maybe Switzerland. High rent and high living costs, however, are always recurring problems.
EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
A highlight for me personally was EPIC, the emigration museum in Dublin. If you ever wish to visit a museum and experience how museums in 2023 should present stories and knowledge, you must go. The only similar experience I had in the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. The EPIC Museum uses a lot of screens, sounds, and smells to bring the stories of Irish emigration to life. For more detailed overview of this fantastic museum please refer to this link.
EuRA Conference Dublin 2023
The big topics of the EURA conference where ESG (environmental, social and governance) and diversity criteria. The Europeans are very keen to put the sustainability criteria through all levels of the supply chain.
In a similar fashion, US-based companies prefer providers who meet their diversity criteria. The good news for us here in South Africa is that we collect our rainwater (well, Cape Town very nearly ran out of water), our office runs on solar energy, and South Africa is one of the most diverse societies in the world.
What stood out to me was how many international governments reach out to the mobility industry (relocation, immigration, corporate housing) and value their feedback. I experienced the same in Seville, Spain last year and this year again. I saw the Irish Minister of Home Affairs and their counterparts in the UK, Germany and Australia, value and listen to sector input. Here is a thought for South Africa – there may be one or two capable immigration companies with ideas worth listening to!
Unskilled Labour in Europe
Another major development is the opening of EU immigration systems for unskilled labour. I have mentioned this at least three times before: this is a wave no one is thinking of in South Africa.
Our market will lose so much talent, escalated further by our corrupt, incompetent government and our society’s depressing electricity shortages. The next big thing is coming our way, and we need to prepare for it. That is why, during Covid, we used our abundance of spare time to expand into offering Germany, Ireland, France, and UK Immigration.
We will expand this offering soon, and potentially pair it with recruitment services. For years, I personally struggled with the idea of exporting talent, but the reality is that people move where they hope to better themselves, and most importantly often return after a couple of years with improved skills, invaluable experiences, and plenty of ideas.
I thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting to our main clients, hearing their overwhelming positive feedback regarding our work, listening to the challenges other nations face (although they do have more electricity…. But the same staff and client challenges, and most of them suffering higher inflation!), and getting updated on the newest trends and ideas in immigration.
I felt a bit left out and sorry for myself when listening how busy some providers in established markets are (with little effort they achieve huge numbers – that is the advantage of operating in big markets).
Nevertheless, I had good laughs with old friends and thoroughly enjoyed my very early morning walks with my colleague Kristen (at 2°C, which we both did not enjoy). My birthday breakfast on the roofs of Dublin was a real treat.
South Africa’s Trusted Employer Scheme
Closer to home, the South African Department of Home Affairs conducted an information session on the planned Trusted Employer Scheme. You will find in this newsletter a detailed article explaining their plans as well as requirements. I am currently engaging with various chambers, as well as our biggest direct corporate clients, to formulate valuable comments on the planned scheme and submit them to the Department in the coming days.
I believe that the planned required threshold of at least 500 employees is too high and that potentially they should grant a percentage of maximum points if you do not meet certain thresholds instead of losing all points on the scorecard.
Furthermore, it is not clear to me if past investments count towards the scorecard, or only future planned investment. Certain sectors: IT, consulting spaces, accounting, and professional service firms will struggle to meet the intended 500 million Rand investment threshold. We have until the 19th of May to formulate valuable comments and I look forward to receiving feedback from the chambers.
After the Department of Home Affairs ignored our court order to provide outcomes on our client’s Permanent Residence applications, our latest contempt of court application is bearing fruits. Of the 25 clients that participated in our lawsuit, only seven of their applications are still outstanding; all the others were approved.
The Department has until the end of May to issue outcomes for the remaining 7 applicants. We are planning our next lawsuit for the end of June of this year. Interested parties can reach out to their consultants and we will put them on our mailing list for our next update in the beginning or middle of June.
Here in the Cape Town Office, we are still thoroughly enjoying the benefits of our Sustain Energy-Box which supports us through four-hour loadshedding without any problems. In the coming week, we will receive the solar panels and finally be completely independent from Eskom.
We have also recently renovated our office in Cape Town, so please pay us a visit and say hello!
Written by Andreas Krensel, Managing Owner
Edited by Simon Carletti, PR and Creative Supervisor