The launch of the Presidential Employment Stimulus last week marks a fundamental shift in the government’s approach to tackling unemployment, says president Cyril Ramaphosa.
“We are undertaking a far-reaching and ambitious public investment in human capital, with the state as both a creator and an enabler of jobs. The Presidential Employment Stimulus is unprecedented in its scale and breadth, involving a public investment of R100 billion over the next three years.
“We will protect and create directly-funded jobs and livelihood support interventions while the labour market recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. Each of these is ready for implementation, and is addition to existing commitments,” the president said in his weekly letter to the nation on Monday (19 October).
Ramaphosa said last week that the government aims to create in excess of 800,000 employment opportunities in the months ahead, to combat the 2.2 million positions lost in the last quarter during the height of the Covid-19 related lockdown.
The employment stimulus, the president said, also includes new and innovative approaches, and is not only an extension to existing programmes.
“This includes a focus on what we have termed ‘social employment’. We are working from the premise that there is no shortage of work to be done to address the many social problems in our society. The aim is to support the considerable creativity, initiative and institutional capabilities that exist in the wider society to engage people in work that serves the common good.
“This work cuts across a range of themes, including food security, ending gender-based violence, informal settlement upgrading and much more,” he said.
He said that this will supplement the efforts of the public sector, allowing for greater scale and social impact.
The stimulus includes a new national programme to employ as many as 300,000 teaching and school assistants. “Schools are making these appointments right now, delivering new opportunities in every community across the length and breadth of the country,” Ramaphosa said.
“Public employment is not just for unskilled work. There is a cross-cutting focus on graduates, with opportunities for nurses, science graduates, artisans and others.
“The stimulus will also protect jobs in vulnerable sectors that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Support will be provided to Early Childhood Development practitioners, mainly self-employed women. Over 74,000 small farmers will also receive production input grants,” he said.
Public employment, Ramaphosa said, will create jobs at scale in the short term while markets recover and create social value in the process.
“At this time of great upheaval, we would be doing ourselves no favours by making unrealistic promises that raise expectations, only to come short when they are not met. This is why each of the jobs and livelihood support interventions is fully funded, with a clear implementation plan,” the president said.
He said that the employment stimulus is not about vague commitments for some time in the future, “but about jobs being created right here and now”.
“The stimulus is the result of extensive consultation with national departments, provinces and metros to rapidly design employment programmes that can be rolled out or expanded within six months.”
The implementing departments and other stakeholders were rigorously assessed on their capacity to implement, Ramaphosa said.
“In every one of the programmes that fall under the stimulus, opportunities will be widely advertised and recruitment will be fair, open and transparent.”