Treasury allocates R11bn for phase 2 of presidential employment stimulus

14 October 2021 - 12:41
Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele briefs the media on the presidential employment stimulus. He reflected on what has been achieved in the first phase and outlined plans for the next phase.
Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele briefs the media on the presidential employment stimulus. He reflected on what has been achieved in the first phase and outlined plans for the next phase.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele on Thursday said more than half a million South Africans have benefited directly from the presidential employment stimulus, either through employment or by receiving a grant to sustain their own economic activity.

“More than 550,000 jobs and livelihoods have been supported to date as part of phase 1, with an overall target of 694,120 opportunities. Several programmes are still in implementation, and we expect this number to increase further,” said Gungubele.

The new focus will include a  model of skills training for unemployed youth and the establishment of a social employment fund, to support work for common good in communities provided by organisations outside the state.

Speaking at a media briefing to reflect on what has been achieved in the first phase of the presidential employment stimulus, and outline plans for the next phase, Gungubele said the stimulus was launched in October in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The minister said the employment stimulus, which is a crucial pillar of the broader economic reconstruction and recovery plan, has supported a portfolio of programmes in three key areas, including public employment interventions, livelihood support to sustain self-employment and protecting existing jobs in vulnerable sectors.

“The main objective of the stimulus is to use public investment to create jobs rapidly and at scale to provide support to those who need it most. In addition to creating jobs and supporting incomes, the stimulus aims to support local economic recovery by providing a wider stimulus for consumer spending in poor communities,” he said.

While employment must ultimately be driven by growth in the private sector, Gungubele said, in the short term, public employment can provide meaningful work and a stable income, while keeping people connected to the labour market and giving them skills to enhance their employability later on.

He explained that the first phase of the employment stimulus has provided valuable lessons for what can be achieved. “Phase 2 of the employment stimulus has now commenced implementation, with a total of R11bn allocated by National Treasury. This will support the continuation of some programmes from phase 1, as well as a range of new programmes.”

He said the recruitment of 287,000 young people as school assistants is already under way, and participants will be placed in November.

Furthermore, he said phase 2 will include the establishment of a new social employment fund, which will support work for common good in communities provided by organisations outside the state.

“Phase 2 will also support the presidential youth employment intervention, including the establishment of the national pathway management network, the revitalisation of the national youth service, and a new model of skills training for unemployed youth linked to employment.” He added that with so much spent, “we have not smelt a whiff of scandal and that is what delights us and the president”. 

Unpacking the presidential youth employment intervention, launched in February 2020, labour minister Thulas Nxesi said, “The presidential employment stimulus supports a wide range of programmes, which are being implemented by 15 national departments in phase 2. Many of the programmes have an explicit focus on youth, given the severity of youth unemployment in SA.”

Nxesi said in phase 1, 84% of participants across all programmes — including public employment and livelihood support — were young people below the age of 35, and two-thirds of all participants were women.  

“Phase 2 ... is supporting the implementation of the presidential youth employment intervention, which aims to provide support and expand opportunities for young people who are unemployed. A total of R838m has been allocated for this programme as part of the overall budget for the stimulus.”

As part of this intervention, Nxesi said the department of employment and labour is leading the establishment of the national pathway management network, which is also known as SA Youth and was launched in June.

“This network allows young people to register and receive active support to find employment, and aggregates opportunities from a wide range of partners within and beyond government,” he explained. Young people were encouraged to access the network through various channels, including the SAYouth.mobi platform, which has been zero-rated, he said.

Young people can also access the network through 126 labour centres as well as National Youth Development Agency centres across the country, he said. A total of 170,000 unemployed youth were placed into various work opportunities through the pathway management network in phase 1 of the employment stimulus, said Nxesi.

“The pathway management network will provide an entry point for young people to access opportunities during phase 2 of the stimulus, by registering their profile on SAYouth.mobi,” he said.

He said phase 2 of the stimulus will also support demand-led training as a new approach to skills development that links training for young people directly to jobs that are available.

“The stimulus will support the recruitment of 35,000 young people as part of a revitalised National Youth Service, which will be expanded further in future years,” he said.

Public works minister Patricia de Lille added that it was the government’s role to create the conditions conducive for economic growth and job creation by the private sector.

“The department of public works and infrastructure (DPWI) was able to expand its own employment programmes in infrastructure with additional funding in phase 1. During the 2020/21 financial year, DPWI appointed 1,886 graduates, many of these graduates were able to secure external employment since being part of the PESP,” she said. 

For the current financial year, De Lille said the department has recruited 1,296 graduates comprising 737 females and 559 males and 98% youth in all provinces.

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