Gov promises to create nearly 400 000 work opportunities this month

  • Government is 390 973 work opportunities shy of reaching its target for the fourth phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme.
  • To date the programme has created 14 million jobs in total.
  • Unfortunately most of these jobs are short to medium term opportunities.

With unemployment sitting at 32.1 percent as we move into an election year, jobs are sure to be a topic of conversation as campaigning gets underway.

As such, it’s unsurprising to hear those in government making big promises in hopes of attracting votes. This week Cabinet sat down for a meeting and one of the topics of conversation was the 20th Anniversary of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

Over the last 20 years the EPWP has seen the creation of over 14 million jobs. In the most recent, fourth phase of the programme which spans from 2019 to 2023, as many as 4.6 million work opportunities have been created and R52 billion in wages have been paid.

The majority of these opportunities were in KwaZulu Natal (23 percent) with Eastern Cape (20 percent) and Western Cape (11 percent) following close behind.

Impressive as that may be, it’s eight percent off of its target of five million work opportunities.

So, during its meeting, Cabinet said it has plans to create 390 973 more work opportunities by March 2024. What those plans entail is unclear but that is a lot of jobs and not all that much time to create them in.

It’s here that we should point out that “work opportunities” don’t necessarily mean a permanent job. Cabinet itself notes that “most of these opportunities are short term to medium term”. This is rather disappointing given the fact that nearly a third of working-age South Africans can’t find a job.

The good news is that 20 percent of participants of the EPWP have obtained work outside of the programme. Furthermore, as many as 600 businesses have been established through the EPWP.

While the pandemic saw massive job losses during Q2 2020 these were offset by more jobs being created in Q3 2020. However, once lockdown restrictions were lifted in 2022, the gains slowed and job growth grew stagnant as the population continued to grow.

How South Africa’s government plans to create more jobs in addition to the nearly 400 000 it wants to create before month end is unclear and the EPWP website is in serious need of an update so we likely won’t get an update until Cabinet meets after the deadline to meet its target has passed.

[Image – Niek Verlaan from Pixabay]


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