Swarts wants meaningful opportunities for EPWP participants

Participants in the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) should have access to further opportunities after being involved in the initiative, says Deputy Minister Bernice Swarts.

“While others will gain important skills as they earn an income, others too must be able to start cooperatives and SMMEs that will be supported through our preferential procurement policies so that these enterprises can graduate to become employers, helping the State to tackle poverty and unemployment,” Swarts said when delivering her department’s Budget Vote in Cape Town on Tuesday,

The EPWP is a government-wide entity that is tasked with providing relief to citizens, especially the unemployed.

The work opportunities offered through the programme are in structured sectors and ensure that participants are skilled in those sectors while they get a basic set stipend.

Swartz said in the department’s Q4 report, as at 17 May 2023, 990 686 work opportunities, against a target of 1 023 569, were created.

“With the number of work opportunities reported to date since the start of the EPWP Phase IV, the EPWP is currently on track to achieve its five-year target of five million work opportunities.

Over the past financial year, the EPWP contributed R12.924 billion in wages to poor households.

“The positive impact of the EPWP to local communities and the lives of the poor and unemployed remains uncontested. The EPWP is also involved in a big effort to address the scarce and critical skills required by the economy through training.

“Some of these skills that were provided in this past financial year were the National Certificate in Road Works Construction in the Eastern Cape, National Certificate in Landscaping in Mpumalanga and Financial Literacy through the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA).

“The public bodies that report to the EPWP provided 40 252 training opportunities in the four EPWP sectors,” Swarts said.

The department is also promoting the development of young people through training and capacitation.

“In this regard, 8 250 work opportunities were created for youth through the National Youth Service, as implemented by public bodies in different spheres of government,” the Deputy Minister said.

In a bid to improve good governance in the EPWP, Swarts said the department has developed an EPWP Policy, which was approved by Cabinet in August 2022.

“The department hosted countrywide EPWP Policy consultation roadshows, where oral submissions were solicited from various stakeholders on how to craft and refine the EPWP of the future.

“Since December 2022, the EPWP Branch has been working diligently to analyse the inputs received and to incorporate these inputs into the EPWP Policy, which is expected to be finalised within this financial year,” Swart said.

The EPWP is one of government’s key programmes aimed at providing poverty and income relief through temporary work for the unemployed.

The EPWP is a nationwide programme that covers all spheres of government.

Source: South African Government News Agency