Setting the stage for the next phase of the EPWP

Government’s flagship job creation programme, the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), is set for a major shake-up in the months ahead.

The programme will be contributing to building better community infrastructure, empowering participants with training and skills to enter the job market and becoming entrepreneurs as part of their exit strategies.

This was announced by Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Sihle Zikalala at the EPWP Phase 5 Indaba in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The announcement comes as government is reviewing the performance of the Expanded Public Works Programme and preparing for Phase 5, which will see over five million job opportunities being created.

The programme, currently in Phase 4, has delivered over four million job opportunities.

The EPWP Phase 5 Indaba is taking take stock of the current phase, which comes to an end in March next year.

Phase 4 learnings are being unpacked and new innovative ideas are being thrashed out for Phase 5 to accelerate the creation of job opportunities that have a long lasting impact on the unemployment of South African youth.

Zikalala said the repositioning and rebranding of the EPWP will be focused on delivering services and changing the lives of communities.

Zikalala said it should move beyond quantity to quality, high impact and be sustainable to the beneficiaries.

The programme will be massified to create more job opportunities while attempting to solve the country’s key challenges such as:

- Road maintenance (pothole patching, brick paving and ensuring pothole free road networks).

- Cleaning of neighbourhoods and waste management.

- Energy (retrofitting of government buildings and solar installations).

- Fixing lifts and plumbing.

“EPWP Phase 5 should be more than just combatting unemployment. It is about rewriting the story of our youth from one of despair to one of hope, from stagnation to growth and from dependency to self-reliance.

“Our core focus should gravitate towards not just creating employment opportunities, but crafting pathways of continuous growth, learning and empowerment. Our goal goes beyond employment generation. It is about nurturing a skilled, self-reliant populace that contributes constructively to our nation’s socio-economic fabric,” Zikalala said.

The Minister said one of the many strategies that will be used to escalate the EPWP’s national effort will be to re-open the government workshops.

The revitalisation of the existing workshops will be a cornerstone of empowering and absorbing some of the graduates from the National Youth Service (NYS) from the EPWP. The workshops will be the crucibles of innovation, skills development and practical exposure.

“By integrating NYS graduates into these workshops, we aim to foster a culture of continuous learning and hands-on experience, ensuring our youth are not just employable but are drivers of innovation and change,” the Minister said.

The Minister quoted a number of global public employment programmes whose lessons will be used extensively to craft programmes that will enhance the livelihoods security of people involved in EPWP programmes.

These programmes include India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act that guarantees 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to a rural household, whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

Rwanda’s Umuganda cleaning programme was also cited by the Minister. The programme is a public cleaning programme that contributes to income support while keeping public places clean and hygienic.

The EPWP will be escalated to encompass priority projects like road maintenance, energy, waste recycling and cleaning of government buildings as arenas of innovation, skills development and environmental stewardship.

It will have a strong emphasis on training, enterprise development and ensuring a transformational journey for participants. The exit pathways will ensure that the journey of participants leads to future employability, self-employment, and cooperatives or enterprises that can employ more people.

“Our vision of creating exit pathways is centred on ensuring that as participants transition out of the programme, they are not stepping back into the abyss of poverty and uncertainty, but are striding confidently into avenues of self-sufficiency, entrepreneurship and meaningful employment,” Zikalala said.

The Minister said the EPWP programme will be characterised by the Khawuleza Model, where service delivery is accelerated and meaningful interventions are unleashed to ameliorate the living conditions of the vulnerable poor.

Source: South African Government News Agency