How the Department of Employment and Labour is connecting work seekers with employers
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There is no dignity in unemployment. This is particularly devastating with regard to the youth, especially this month as we celebrate the heroic deeds of young people whose sacrifices directly impacted the trajectory of freedom.
Even in the context of the pandemic and the prevailing inclement economic conditions, we believe as government, we must continue to pull all stops to ensure that young people are either in employment or at least have the opportunity to put to practice their innovative ideas and harness their entrepreneurial spirit.
That is why my department has been singularly focused on finding workable solutions to fight this new pandemic – youth unemployment.
The Department of Employment and Labour’s Public Employment Services is our main driver in helping alleviate the plight of work seekers by placing them in potential opportunities. In the last financial year, we placed a total number of 26 486 young people in job opportunities.
Our wide footprint puts us in a prime position to play this role. We are located in almost every district in the country through our 126 district-based Labour Centres, 36 satellite offices and 490 visiting points.
Furthermore, the Department operates its own technology platform, called ESSA available at (www.labour.gov.za ), and through self-help kiosks at 63 labour centres.
Every day we interact with thousands of work seekers, especially the youth to access the department’s systems to register as work seekers and search for job opportunities.
Each provincial office carries out regular advocacy and outreach campaigns to reach out to work seekers and employers that are the opportunity providers. Our 177 Employment Practitioners and 126 Employment Counsellors are constantly helping work seekers through their perilous job search journey. Registered counsellors also provide Psychometric Assessment where required to further assist employers to place the correct candidates.
The following assistance is provided free of charge to all work seekers:
- Help with job search techniques and writing a résumé.
- Access to job search facilities, self-help kiosks with free broadband at selected centres and printers.
- Help to develop skills through training and development opportunities.
- Access to work experience opportunities.
Employment Service Practitioners work in the local districts and have intimate knowledge of the local labour market. They know the employers in the area and what kinds of jobs are available and where possible, they match work seekers with these opportunities.
Help to overcome personal barriers that could be preventing workers from finding and keeping a job. Psycho-social support is critical, especially navigating the difficulties brought about by the Covid pandemic.
We conduct Job Fairs and Career Days to source job opportunities to place unemployed youth.
The Department is also leading the Pathway Network Management announced by the president, and through collaboration with partners aims to create wider access for all work seekers. We do this by bringing together nationally, work, learning and job opportunities for youth, made easily accessible on a digital platform.
Some 436,000 youths (not in employment, education or training – ‘NEETs’) have already been supported, with 170,000 placed into various work opportunities through the wider pathway management network.
We are creating further touch points. This week, we will be launching a youth employment centre in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, in what should be the first of similar centres. It aims to connect work seekers to potential employment opportunities, especially young people and assist with the above listed free services.
Two more youth employment centres will be opened in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and De Aar in the Northern Cape. Another flagship is the Labour Activation Project which supports the new mandate of employment by providing needed funds for job creation and job preservation projects under the Unemployment Insurance Fund umbrella.
For the 2020/2021 financial year, 5419 youths have participated in the Public Employment Programmes and the UIF has been directed to only fund programmes with the potential for creating meaningful jobs for beneficiaries as well as preserving existing jobs.
UIF LAP targets for 2021/22 include the following: 12,000 youth targeted for training; 41,000 UIF contributors targeted for job retention or re-employment; as well as supporting SMMEs and establishing 30 cooperatives.
We have recommended a total of 26 job creation programmes which are expected to result in a total of 57 955 jobs over three years. We have also harnessed the Compensation Fund to commit 10% of its investment portfolio towards growth and job creation which equals R7 billion. This includes an allocation of R1 billion to support employment-creating SMEs over the next four years.
Over and above this, the CF also has a bursary programme for young people to study accounting and related fields and continue to support its feeder channels.
Central to our employment strategy is the need to close the skills gaps. Part of this references the new demands of the 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution). So there will be a greater emphasis on digital literacy skills, as well as entrepreneurial skills.
To this end, my Department is collaborating with the Departments of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, and Communication and Digital Technology.
From the perspective of the Inspectorate, we also have a “Pupil Inspector Programme” which has been running for several decades.
This is a programme for South African youth with mathematics and science as part of your entry requirements to enter a higher education institution. The Inspection and Enforcement Services works with the PES who provides the candidates with their employment services.
The Department covers the costs associated with the studies including a stipend during the period of study.
The above commitments, seen in context with other programmes of government should display our commitment not only to turn the tide of unemployment but to particularly make a difference to the lives of young people who are the backbone for our future. That is the least we can do for and with them.
* Thulas Nxesi is Minister of Employment and Labour.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL and Independent Media.