Rising demand for the skills of the returning African Diaspora

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According to a new survey published by EY, the likelihood of companies in Sub-Saharan Africa to recruit from the returning African Diaspora (men and women from African countries who have studied, worked, and lived abroad but are looking to return to their countries of origin) is increasing, whilst the use of expatriates as a means to fill skills gaps for companies operating in Africa is expected to decline.

EY’s Realising potential - Sub-Saharan Africa talent trends and practices (pdf, 3.7mb) surveyed 224 companies across 23 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and finds that 27% of participants have medium to high expectations of recruiting from the returning African Diaspora in the future as to opposed to only 10% at present. By way of contrast, 53% of participants anticipate a lower or significantly lower demand for expatriate skills in the next twelve months.

David Storey, EY’s EMEIA People and Change Leader, says, “The relatively small pool of local, skilled labour in Sub-Saharan Africa coupled with positive growth expectations for the region has the potential to result in the demand for skilled labour exceeding the supply and a highly competitive war for talent ensuing; particularly for technical and professional skills. Clearly companies are starting to look at the returning African Diaspora as a cheaper and more effective solution than simply plugging skills gaps with expatriates.”

Costs are an important factor in the decline in the desirability of expatriates.  Approximately one in three expatriates in executive positions, and one in five expatriates in other positions earn a premium three times that of their local counterparts according to the survey. But so are other factors such as differences in culture, behaviours, and practices said Mr Storey.

“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.” But Mr Storey warned that companies must recognise 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, incentivised, and retained.
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This news release has been issued by EYGM Limited, a member of the global EY organization that also does not provide any services to clients.

Following on from EY’s successful integration in 2008 of 87 countries into one area from across Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA), the firm has launched its Africa Business Center™ (ABC), which aims to enhance the effective and efficient links between its geographic reach and areas of expertise. The firm enjoys representation in 33 countries across Africa.

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