Government’s new R24 billion unemployment plan

 ·5 Apr 2024

The Department of Employment and Labour has announced a new R23.8 billion Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Labour Activation Programme to provide “training for employment and entrepreneurship programmes,” to “strengthen employment creation and mitigate unemployment.”

This was revealed by labour minister Thulas Nxesi in a press conference on Thursday (3 March), who said that this private-public collaboration has 333 earmarked projects “to provide training, small enterprise support and employment opportunities to 704,000,” people.

However, the minister said that this programme is not “a silver bullet to end the challenge of unemployment, but… a viable force multiplier that can be used together with other initiatives and interventions as part of the response.”

The training opportunities will run between 12 to 36 months where participants will either be trained to establish their own enterprises or have the opportunity to be employed post-training

“[A]fter [the training, employees] must be linked to the companies to absorb them, even if they’re going to observe them for a year or two… that’s very important,” said Nxesi.

The minister said that the UIF would recover the R23.8 billion of funds invested through contributions from employers and employees, as well as investment-generated revenue.

The program will be rolled out in stages across the country, starting with phase 1 on April 6 in Gauteng, which promises 55 different opportunities.

However, more information is yet to be announced, including announcing the service providers who will offer training and employment opportunities, and an explanation of the operations for each project.

Starting April 12, Phase 2 of the program is said to focus on fostering collaboration among provinces to consolidate projects, enhance partnerships through recruitment funding, and reduce duplication of programmes.

The minister said that opportunities will be created across a wide range of sectors, including; agriculture, services, construction, information and communications technology, wholesale and retail, safety and security, hospitality, social services, textiles, transport, furniture manufacturing, education, energy, food and beverage, health and wellness, aviation, insurance, jewellery, hygiene, arts and culture, and the financial sector.

The initiative shares objectives with the controversial R5 billion public-private job creation scheme spearheaded by businessman Mthunzi Mdwaba.

This scheme, which is now discontinued, aimed to channel billions from the UIF into a private investment firm, which would then acquire stakes in different companies. By doing this, the firm would have then push for job creation as a shareholder. However, this was met with widespread resistance and was abruptly stopped.

Read: 8 jobs government is desperately looking for foreigners to fill in South Africa

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