Potential emigration of engineers within a large mining organisation : an explanatory study
Swart, Johannes Hendrik
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South Africans leaving their country of birth is not a new phenomenon. South Africa currently has a large shortage of engineers and the fact that engineers are seeking better opportunities abroad is worsening the skills shortage in South Africa. Engineers form a vital part of any manufacturing, design, supply or production entity and leave a large setback if a skilled, experienced engineer decides to emigrate. Official statistics from self-declared emigrants showed that 601 engineers out of the total 16,165 self-declared emigrants left the country in 2003. This figure can be double the given number of 601 if the multiplication factor of 2.0 is taken into consideration for people that do not complete the emigration forms at the airports. The focus of this study was to investigate the emigration potential of the skilled engineer along with the factors that might lead to emigration, and were classified into three distinctive groups, namely, economic, political and social. These aspects are generally referred to as "push" factors that drive people out of the country such as racism, crime and violence; as well as "pull" factors that attract people such as better work opportunities, better salaries and better education. An electronic survey questionnaire was used to determine the emigration potential of the engineers within a large mining organisation. The respondents had to indicate their emigration potential as well as the major factors that would contribute to them leaving South Africa. The overall measured potential for emigration within the specific mining organisation was significantly low. Only twenty percent of respondents agreed that they are planning to emigrate within the next five years and only two percent within the next year. Forty-six percent of respondents agreed that they would rather like to work in another country for only a few years than to emigrate permanently. Various reasons could have lead to the contradicting low measured emigration potential within this specific organisation. Literature has proven that there is a significant relationship between intention to emigrate and organisational commitment. Results also showed that emigration potential tend to increase the better the engineer is qualified; with the emigration potential amongst electrical and mechanical engineers higher than all other disciplines. Crime and violence were the number one factor impacting the respondent in terms of potential emigration.