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Writer: Stephen Timm

EPWP changing lives which kicked off in 2014, is expected to produce a further six million work opportunities by 2019, with a third of these already having been created by the end of June this year. In a mid-term evaluation of the EPWP by the Department of Public Works in 2011 almost half of all beneficiaries indicated that their financial situation and that of their families had improved after they took part in the programme. Importantly, the department projects that South Africa’s unemployment rate would have been 2.8 percentage points higher in 2012 had it not been for the EPWP. The review also found that the programme’s second phase lowered the poverty rate by less than 0.5 percent. The department attributed this partly to the programme providing job opportunities for only about 2.5 percent of the poor in the country or about seven percent of the unemployed.


The average job during the second phase lasted only 65 holiwe Skom spent seven years unemployed after

days, at an average daily wage of R62. By June 2015 the av-

completing a business college diploma, until she

erage had climbed to R105.85 a day, according to statistics

found work earlier this year as a school administrative

from the department.

assistant as part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). Recalling the years she tried to get work while volunteer-

ing her services with various organisations, she says: “I cry when I think about it.”

in the form of stipends.

Wide range of initiatives needed

But today Skom, 31, who works at Joe Slovo Primary School

Deputy Minister of Public Works Jeremy Cronin says that

in Port Elizabeth, is more optimistic. “I think it [the work op-

while many lessons have been learnt over more than a dec-

portunity] is going to count for something.”

ade of the EPWP, it would be wrong to imagine that public

She was placed at the school by Sophakama, a non-profit organisation which is funded in part by an allocation from the EPWP.

employment programmes alone can tackle unemployment and poverty. “Achieving a more sustainable, inclusive, job-creating

Her aim is to use the work experience to get a permanent

growth and developmental trajectory will require a wide

job. In June and July, she completed training in computers,

range of initiatives,” he points out, in a publication released

time management and written business skills at Khanyisela

by the department and the SA Cities Network to commemo-

TVET College. The monthly stipend she receives allows her

rate 10 years of the EPWP.

to take care of her two children aged seven and three.

Creating work opportunities


The department estimates that since the programme’s inception over R200 billion has been paid to beneficiaries

In addition, he says that the EPWP should be seen as more than just a stop-gap measure to create jobs. It can also help create and maintain important assets.

Between its inception in 2004 and the end of the second

He points to data that shows that in 2014/15, a total of 33

phase in 2014, the EPWP produced more than 5.6 million

070km of fencing, 109 923km of pipeline, and 64 632km of

work opportunities. The third phase of the programme,

storm-water drains were installed through the programme.

Public Sector Manager • December 2016 / January 2017

PSM December/January Edition 2016/2017  

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