International students can forget about applying for jobs in South Africa, unless they have an identity document (ID) or work permit. This was the general message at a careers fair, held earlier today at the Old Mutual Sports Hall at Wits.
The Counselling and Careers Developmental Unit’s (CCDU) graduate recruitment programme organised the fair for students from across all faculties but there was little on offer for students from outside South Africa.
International student Tinashe Chuchu, Masters in Marketing, attended the fair to look for potential recruiters and employment opportunities. He said the fair was a good initiative by Wits, however his choices are limited given his degree and nationality.
“There were a wide variety of opportunities for engineering students, social sciences students and commerce students,” he said. However he was turned away by companies who were not looking foreign students. “I left out all the banks, for obvious reasons. They do not take anyone who is not South African,” Chuchu said.
“I think the labour department puts (sic) regulations for companies to fulfil quotas,” he said. In his own experience of looking for jobs, Chuchu found that there were positions advertised for international students, but only for specific and scarce skills sets.
Laws and regulations
Kwame Owusu-Ansah, masters in Chemical Engineering, shared Chuchu’s views. Although there were many opportunities, Owusu-Ansah said some of them were very “shaky”. You can apply for some positions, but then you have to make sure you can get a work permit.
“I have a wide variety of choices because I’m an engineer. But until they find out I’m an international student, it slashes by three quarters.”
He explained that South African labour regulations are more stringent than in previous years. “They often refuse permits for international students, even if they give you an offer,” he said.
Lloyd Uta, an international student completing his Masters in Marketing, found companies that were looking for applicants from South Africa and abroad. Those were big multi-national companies and a few smaller companies looking to increase their human capital, he said.
However, Uta admits, “Choices are limited. I have to keep switching between what I want to do (marketing) and what I can do (IT),” to find job openings.
Amos Kova, a graduate recruitment manager at a bank explained why applicants had to be South African citizens, “We believe that we have an obligation to South Africa”.
Bohlale Paile, also a graduate recruitment manager at a bank said: “We don’t take international students at this point. We did before, but we ran into problems when it came to getting work permits”.
She explained that the Department of Labour required recruiters to motivate why non-South African citizens were chosen over South African citizens.
The motivation process and applications for work permits take time, which holds international graduates back from starting the graduate programme timeously.
Raj Naran, the Career Development Educator and Team Leader Career Services at CCDU said this year, the careers fair was open to everybody. “It does not have a specific focus.”
Companies came from industries where there was a shortage in a skills set, such as “accounting, engineering and commerce” he said.
Naran added that students should earn their jobs, develop themselves and prepare well, “and certainly, academic records play a role”.
Another careers fair is scheduled for September this year.
- Wits Vuvuzela. Postgraduate students still struggling with SA visa regulations. July 30, 2014.
- Wits Vuvuzela. International students stranded in SA. April 25, 2014.
- Wits Vuvuzela. No career fair for humanities. May 17, 2013.