Labour & Skills

WORK PERMITS: Work permits are required by expatriates working on projects in South Africa and guiding South African Industry. These are obtained from the Department of Home Affairs ( 

Work permits are issued only to foreigners where South African citizens with the relevant skills are not available for appointment. These permits are open-ended and applications must be made at any regional office of the Department of Home Affairs or nearest South African embassy, mission or consulate abroad.

The following types of work permits may be applicable in this industry sector depending on the circumstances:

  • General work visas (not exceeding five years)
  • Critical skills work visas (not exceeding five years)
  • Intra-company transfer work visas (not exceeding four years and not renewable)

LABOUR & SKILLS: The South African labour market is characterised by an oversupply of unskilled workers reflecting the high levels of unemployment and a shortage of skilled workers. However, there is a South African pool of workers skilled in the various components of oil and gas as well as other heavy plant work who move between projects in South and in West Africa. As a rule, the major players try to co-ordinate their planning well in advance to level-out the labour demand.

Labour costs: With the proviso that relative labour costs are sensitive to fluctuations in exchange rates, costs in South Africa with respect to offshore oil and gas work are generally cheaper than Western Europe and America, broadly similar to Singapore and significantly higher than China.

Training: The larger firms generally have extensive training programmes both for new entrants to the field and for upgrading and improving the skills of the existing workers. Trade Unions: South Africa has a very strong trade union movement, but in general it is proactive and works well with the industry. Strikes do, however, occur and usually centre around wage negotiations.

Engineering professionals: Although South Africa has a number of universities with full engineering faculties conforming to international standards, none offer either naval architecture or marine engineering. These faculties do have many experts who are available for specialised consulting.

Aside from the repair work, the local industry has the ability to fabricate many of the sub-units required in the oil and gas sectors


The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) provides for the registration of engineering professionals and the regulation of engineering practice in order to promote the safety, health and interests of the public in relation to the Engineering Profession.