Towards decent work for jobseekers
The District Mayor Agnes Ntlhangula
The Acting Premier Grizelda Cjiekella and your MECs
National Ministers and Deputy Ministers represented here
Members of the business community
Esteemed ladies and gentlemen
We meet today in this wonderful venue named after one of our struggle heros, Mita Sperepere just a day after Women’s Day. Let me upfront then wish all the women a belated Happy Women’s Day and wish them well also over the whole month dedicated to us.
This jobs fair and summit is the third such meeting with events having taken place in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and now here in the diamond province.
We are encouraged programme director that as we meet, jobs data has shown that a dent, however tiny, has been made in the fight against unemployment. Statistics SA reported recently that the jobless rate has fallen to under 25 percent.
This is an important psychological barrier for our reporting as it shows that the work that we have collectively put together is beginning to bear fruit.
We are encouraged that the visionary leadership of the peoples movement is beginning to bear fruit and it is up to all of us to help the tide along. What this means is that hope has been restored to 25 000 more people than the last quarter this year.
This means that hope has been restored to a number of children who by virtue that their parents now have a jobs, will lead an improved life and that their educational needs will be taken care of as a result of the employment of their parents.
We are aware that much needs to be done to restore dignity to our people through pursuit of gainful employment. Too many people are still unemployed and to be in that state is not just about want of money as the Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen wrote: unemployment is more than a deficiency of income that can be made up through transfers by the state (at heavy fiscal cost that can itself be a very serious burden), it is also a source for far-reaching debilitating effects on individual freedom, initiative, and skills. Among its manifold effects, unemployment contributes to the social exclusion of some groups, and it leads to losses of self-reliance, self-confidence and psychological and physical health.
This is the core of this programme and intervention: to bring hope and make a difference in the lives of our people.
The department of labour has made a commitment to “contribute to the creation of decent employment through inclusive economic growth and to respond to the strategic priorities of government through increased focus on:
Public Employment Services
Enhancing Inspection and Enforcement Services to effectively monitor and enforce compliance with legislation
Strengthening Social Security and
Strengthening the institutional capacity of the department.
Today our focus on the top two priorities: Decent work and Public Employment Services.
We have set in motion various processes to achieve these goals including amending critical areas of legislation like the Labour Relations and Basic Conditions of Employment.
These two bills are now before Parliament. The Public Employment Services Bill and Employment Equity Amendment Bill (equal work for equal pay) have now been concluded at NEDLAC level and will also soon be presented to the executive before being brought before Parliament.
We have already started creating a database that will help employers and potential employees find work without having to pay for the privilege which is in the spirit of the new Public Employment Services Bill.
All these bills are aimed at promoting sound and responsive legislation and policies to attain labour market flexibility for competitiveness of enterprises which is balanced with the promotion of decent employment.
As stated at the first two Jobs Fairs in Eastern Cape and KZN respectively, the problem of unemployment and joblessness is a serious threat to the stability that was achieved post 1994. This makes it even more urgent for Government to do its utmost to find ways to mitigate this developing disaster.
So our presence here is a testament to that resolve to leave no stone unturned in finding solution to the problem of joblessness.
But government is saying: There are many social partners including labour and business. We are saying for the sake of our children and their future, we need to open our hands and hold each other as we move with speed to restore hope to our people.
Business has the opportunities. As government, our role is to create an enabling environment not only for business to thrive and make money, but for creation of employment opportunities through this partnership.
But we also recognise that our role extends wider than just policy. As a result, we have directed that our entities invest money in a socially responsible way and I am pleased to inform you that the Unemployment Insurance and the Compensation Fund have been at the forefront of doing exactly this.
This socially responsible investing has seen a number of jobs that were threatened saved and new jobs created.
To date, R4 billion has been invested with the Industrial Development Cooperation and of that amount, R2.9 billion has been approved for 168 business deals resulting in the creation of 16 255 new jobs and the retention of 18 463 jobs. Therefore, the combined new jobs created and saved stands at 34 718.
In terms of indirect UIF investments and in support of the President’s commitment to improving the country’s infrastructure and to create jobs, as was articulated during his Excellency’s state of the National Address in 2012, the UIF has invested R37.8 billion in this regard. This money is invested in Government Bonds and Parastatals.
The Compensation Fund (CF) has already set aside R2 billion which will be invested through the Public Investment Corporation for investment in social infrastructure projects and other job creation projects. The projects to be funded will be identified and implemented once the investment mandate has been finalised.
Furthermore, the UIF has committed between R200m to R500m to invest in agricultural projects. This investment will create jobs and support food security in South Africa.
The UIF has also contributed R1.2 billion to fund the Training Lay-off Scheme. The scheme is aimed at distressed companies due to the economic conditions and at workers who may be at risk of retrenchment.
Through the scheme workers agree to forgo their normal wage to attend training programmes and to accept a training allowance during this period. Employers gain a financial recovery period by reducing payroll costs for a period and improve the skills levels of their workers at limited costs to the company.
I would like to appeal to companies representatives present here, who might be facing difficult trading conditions to consider using the funding to avoid retrenchments.
The UIF has also trained and empowered individuals on various artisan skills and to date 321 individuals have been trained.
The Fund has also partnered with the National Skills Fund (NSF), the various Sector Education Training Authorities (SETA’s) and Productivity South Africa to set up an up-skilling/training project of which R210 million has been set aside in this financial year.
Most of the projects are led by the Public Employment Services branch of the department which is hosting these Jobs Fairs.
Since the inception of the Training of the Unemployed project R155.9 million has been committed through funding agreements. UIF has also signed funding agreements to the value of R129 million with the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) and the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services SETA (MERSETA) to train 2500 artisans. The training started in 2011/ 2012 financial year.
These are just some of the basket of interventions that we our government has embarked on to show that we lead from the front.
I would therefore like to appeal to business to partner with us and go the extra mile in granting not only opportunities for employment but also bursaries and internships so that we can begin to deal with the problem of youth unemployment – estimated by the ILO to be affecting at least 75 million young men and women.
In time, business will find that our database will provide the needed potential workers with ease. To that end, business should also register their vacancies to make the matching of jobs with skills that much easier.
As part of our commitment to job creation we have also invited various sister departments to make presentations on the various opportunities that exist linked to their departments.
We have also invited financial organisation to help unlock the funding should some of you here today need this kind of service. I do hope that you will make use of these opportunities to your benefit.
In conclusion programme director, I must indicate that this week, the International Labour Organisation validated the work of this government in general and the department in particular when they acknowledged that our labour dispensation is not rigid and is also not detrimental to the creation ofemployment. Our labour dispensation is responsive to the call for Decent Work which means work done under conditions of freedom of association, freedom to organise, freedom of speech, equity and fairness.
This is what the Freedom Charter called for. This is exactly what we are doing.