The success of the Non-State Sector Programme (NSS), a component of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), indicated that the programme could be expanded, Public Works Minister Thulasi Nxesi said on Friday.
The NSS was introduced as a division of the EPWP in 2009. Since then, more than 35 000 jobs have been created across South Africa.
The programme uses wage subsidies to support non-State sector entities throughout the country. Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations and faith-based organisations teach people in their communities skills as a way of creating work opportunities.
Nxesi stated at the EPWP NSS Summit in Boksburg that, despite the wage subsidy being considerably lower than EPWP targets, more than 7 000 people, including persons living with disabilities, had received multiskills training through the NSS in the 2011/12 financial year.
However, the Minister pointed out that although equity targets had been exceeded in the women and youth segments, the 2% target set for persons living with disabilities had been barely met.
“This is a big challenge, the only exception is in the Eastern Cape, where 5% has been achieved,” he noted.
In the latest financial year, some R71-million was allocated to wage subsidies to create 24 000 jobs and 8 348 full-time equivalent jobs. These targets were exceeded, as 33 712 jobs and 12 431 full-time equivalent jobs were created.
Nxesi added that the NSS also boasted the lowest full-time equivalent cost across all EPWP programmes, while it was the fastest growing and most labour intensive.
However, he said implementation challenges were weighing down the programme.
“The sector is expected to contribute towards poverty alleviation and job creation in accordance with government’s New Growth Path, Millennium Development Goals and antipoverty strategy. But their capacity is limited owing to the low baseline allocation provided for the wage subsidy cost,” the Minister warned.
Nxesi said the current pilot implementation model for the programme was geared towards finding the best solution.
“The pilot model has clearly illustrated the potential of NGOs in implementing activities that support the objectives of the EPWP and the minimum institutional arrangement that should be in place to achieve this,” he enthused.
Further, the Minister called upon all spheres of the public sector and NGOs to speak out about challenges and partner with government inovercoming poverty and unemployment.
“There is an urgent need to find ways of developing this programme over the next three years,” he emphasised.
Meanwhile, Nxesi has launched a turnaround strategy to stabilise the operations of the Department of Public Works (DPW) in the short term, while embarking on a fundamental review and transformation in the longer term.
“Everyone must be involved, from the head office, to the regions, to the lowest worker. A successful turnaround requires the active participation and buy-in of the organisation at every level,” he said in a statement.
The 18-month process entails the revision and renewal of the department. Special attention would also be given to address suspensions at senior management levelthat were causing instability.
“It is not about position and power, but about what we want to achieve. Change starts at the top,” the Minister stressed.