Doidge explains 482 000 job opportunities

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cape Town - Minister of Public Works Geoff Doidge has explained the 482 000 job opportunities that government's Expanded Public Works Programme created between April and December last year.

Recently, critics questioned the duration of the work opportunities created last year, but Doidge said many of these ran for a significant period of time.

He turned to the example of the Zibambele Programme, a programme initiated by provincial governments which guaranteed 100 days of employment for those involved, spread over two working days a week.

In KwaZulu-Natal, it helped create 40 000 job opportunities, while in Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape, it had created a further 20 000 jobs.

"Let me say that the EPWP is a programme that works and we must stop trying to make the EPWP what it is not," said Doidge, during a briefing to media of the social protection and community development cluster.

According to the cluster, the job opportunities under the EPWP are defined as any period of paid employment. From its inception, the programme was designed as a strategy to bridge the skills gap, provide remunerative employment opportunities for the disadvantaged groups and to fast track the provision of public services.

The cluster says that wages earned by the vulnerable people who are employed through EPWP, complement the existing social welfare programme of government.

According to Doidge, the programme had already been reviewed and the review document would be posted on the department's website this week.

The second phase of the programme, which was launched last year and runs until 2014, aims to create 4.5 million short-term job opportunities.

The EPWP is divided into four sectors, namely: infrastructure, environment, social (which included programmes such as home-based care) and the non-state sector.

Doidge said a break down of work opportunities created between April and December last year revealed that 217 527 of these were created by infrastructure projects, 66 040 by the environment and culture sector, 165 466 in the social sector and 33 709 in the non-state sector.

Turning to other programmes in the EPWP, he said the Working for Water programme had contributed to stimulating entrepreneurialism in the country by encouraging contractors to set up their own enterprises and co-operatives, while assisting them with business skills.

Doidge said there was "extensive" upskilling and training in certain programmes under the EPWP such as Working for Fire, Food for Waste and in home-based care.

"We are watching very closely as to whether we are achieving those identified targets and target groups, because it's important for us not to hijack this programme for the sake of numbers but to make sure we remain on track to halving poverty by 2014," he said.

Doidge emphasised that the R52 billion assigned to the EPWP in the budget didn't all go to the Department of Public Works, but was allocated to the departments under which each of the various programmes, such as Working for Fire and Working for Water, fell.

The role of the department was to track the performance of each of the various programme allocated expenditure under the EPWP, to ensure that the maximum number of work opportunities as possible were created, he said.

Doidge would give a more detailed outline of how the government was working together to create more work for the poor and the unemployed, in his forthcoming Budget Vote speech.