DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS: EPWP to create 6 million jobs

SEPTEMBER 10, 2014

Six million job opportunities are expected to be created through Phase 3 of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) by 2019, says the Department of Public Works.

EPWP Phase 3, which has already started creating jobs in April, will be officially launched in October this year, and priority is given to the vulnerable, poor and unemployed people.

The department said of the six million job opportunities to be created, a significant amount will be given to women, youth and people with disabilities.

Public Works envisaged that the programme will create 3.5 million jobs in the first three years, starting in the 2014/15 financial year, and 2.5 million between 2017 and 2019.

The department’s Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin outlined the implementation of the EPWP Phase 3 before the Public Works Portfolio Committee in Parliament, on Tuesday.

Deputy Minister Cronin said the job opportunities will be created through Infrastructure, Environment and Culture, Social, and Non-state Sectors.

“South Africa has been a global pioneer in Public Employment Programmes (PEPs) on a large scale such as in the environmental services, through sub-programmes like Working for Water, Working on Fire, and Working for Wetlands, with major positive impact on communities , people and Parks and saving the GDP billions of Rands over the years,” said the Deputy Minister.

The Deputy Minister said the programme will be governed by four principles comprising adherence to minimum and employment conditions under the Ministerial Determination, clearly defined worker selection criteria, minimum labour intensity to appropriate sector, and contributions to the public good in communities.

“Infrastructure is the biggest employment creator, with more than 2 million work opportunities out of the total 6 million targeted by 2018/19,” said the Deputy Minister.

EPWP Phase 3 is also expected to increase the scope of infrastructure maintenance and quality implementation and developmental impact, especially in rural communities.

The department said the programme will target the poor and unemployed citizens through a combination of geographical and community-based targeting or wage rate.

The Deputy Minister said strong collaboration with the National Skills Fund and Skills Education and Training Agencies will continue to source funding for the training of participants.

He said sectors will also be encouraged to dedicate a portion of their implementation budgets for training of the workers.

Deputy Minister Cronin said the graduation of EPWP participants into formal employment would be promoted through various initiatives, including cooperatives and small enterprise development. 

He added that the EPWP provided a unique policy instrument for government to create work opportunities and alleviate unemployment.

“Despite numerous efforts undertaken by government, unemployment in South Africa has stubbornly remained high. The on-going global economic downturn has made this even worse and has increased the number of unemployed in South Africa even further,” said the Deputy Minister.

EPWP is one of the Public Employment Programmes to be monitored by the newly created Presidential Public Employment Inter-Ministerial Committee, whose mandate is, among other things, to ensure greater harmony and compliance of the PEPs.

The EPWP was launched 10 years ago as one of government’s major Public Employment Programmes under the auspices of Anti-Poverty Strategy.

It has so far created approximately 5.5 million job opportunities, covering all spheres of government and State-Owned Enterprises. -