December 7, 2023

For immediate release

Johannesburg, 6 October 2023

Vets and veterinary nurses reinstated to South Africa’s critical skills list


Veterinarians and veterinary nurses have been reinstated to South Africa’s critical skills list with effect from 3 October 2023 – after having been removed from the list in February 2022.

“We are delighted to share this good news,” says Dr Nandipha Ndudane, president of veterinary statutory body the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC). “This much-needed amendment to the critical skills list will help address the dire shortage of veterinarians and veterinary nurses in South Africa.

“It is much simpler to apply for a critical skills permit than a work permit – making it easier for foreign vets to work in South Africa. This will also assist with food safety and security in South Africa, as more veterinarians will be available to help farmers keep livestock healthy.”

“The continuous collaborative efforts by the SAVC, the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to lobby to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) for veterinarians and veterinary nurses to be put back on the critical skills list by has finally paid off.”

The SAVC is ready to issue the required “scarce skills” letters to the DHA upon request of qualifying foreign veterinarians and veterinary nurses looking to work in South Africa.

The reinstatement also means that veterinarians from the United Kingdom and Australasia who are permitted to practise in South Africa without having to write SAVC exams (due to mutual recognition agreements) will more easily be granted permits to work here. These veterinarians will have to perform a year’s compulsory community service through the DALRRD once they have registered with the SAVC.

The reinstatement of veterinarians to the critical skills list will further assist foreign students studying veterinary science at the University of Pretoria (UP) to complete their one-year compulsory community service, allowing them to remain and practise in the country.

Earlier this year, the SAVC raised alarm bells about the high numbers of vets leaving the country, which is resulting in South Africa facing a severe skills shortage in a profession that is critical to ensuring animal health and food safety and security.

South Africa has 60 to 70 vets per million citizens, far below the international norm of 200 to 400 vets per million. The SAVC’s records show that about 150 veterinarians are leaving the country annually while only about 160 qualify each year from UP – the only faculty in South Africa that offers studies in veterinary science.

“While work is being done to motivate for the establishment of additional faculties offering veterinary science qualifications and to implement strategies to retain veterinary professionals, the SAVC believes this positive step taken by the DHA will go a long way in mitigating South Africa’s veterinary skills deficit,” concludes Dr Ndudane.


December 7, 2023

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