The passing of the proposed Public Employment Services (PES) into law will act as a catalyst towards halting the mounting unemployment rate in South Africa.
Department of Labour (DoL) Deputy Director-General of Public Employment Services Sam Morotoba believes that the passing into law of PES Bill would help the Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant to come with skills to intervene in the labour market using the department’s job seekers register.
The Bill, currently being discussed at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), it is hoped will make it compulsory for employers to notify DoL’s labour centres of their existing vacancies.
Through the PES legislation, DoL seeks among others to ensure: improved access to the labour market for work seekers, provide opportunities for new entrants to the labour market to gain work experience, improve employment prospects of persons with disabilities, improve employment prospects of work-seekers and employees facing retrenchments; facilitate access by work seekers to training and, promote employment growth and workplace productivity.
Morotoba was speaking at the national official launch of the Department of Labour’s Job Fair initiative, which ran parallel with a provincial Jobs Summit held at the Zululand Chamber of Business Foundation (ZCBF) Community Park at Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal.
President Jacob Zuma told the official opening of the two-day Job Fair that ended today (July 6) that it was unfortunate that South African employers were looking outside the country to recruit, instead of investing in skills development to address the ‘growing army of unemployed’, which would pose a threat in the future.
The DoL has unveiled the Job Fair initiative to provide a platform for work-seekers to register and also meet with prospective employers. The Job Fairs free services is to also empower the unemployed with soft skills, information and face-to-face search for placement opportunities be they further learning, self-employment, co-operatives, community works or public works programmes and formal employment.
Morotoba said with South Africa’s unemployment perched at about 25%, three million of those were young people, mainly in the age category of 16-34. He said the country was among the 20 worst affected by unemployment in the world, with one in eight people employed.
He said the large numbers of youth flocking to the Job Fairs to register for placement was a reflection of the deepening job crisis.
According to Morotoba the country was faced with problems related to education and issues of skills mismatch and blacks bear the most brunt of people affected in the labour market. He said one of key elements of registering job seekers would be to establish how they survive.
Amidst all these problems, Morotoba said the atypical/temporary form of employment has also grown from 1.2 million in 2010 to 1.3 million. He cautioned that the deepening of social benefits were discouraging people from looking for work.
He said India with a population of about 1.2 billion had an unemployment rate of less than 15% and most of its population was involved in the informal economy and South Africa can take a leaf out of the country and develop more entrepreneurs.
“We cannot deal with unemployment without looking at policy integration,” he cautioned that the labour market had various role players each with own needs and expectations.
“The DoL’s PES programme of Job Fairs is not just for registering work-seekers, but will also help us in planning and establish where job seekers located are,” he said.
Morotoba told the gathering that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) was not just a blue card for interim relief when people lose jobs. He said its new focus was to get the unemployed back into the labour market using joint initiatives with Setas to embark on training and tap into the training lay off schemes.
He reiterated the DoL’s change of focus using the surplus reserves of both the public entities - UIF and the Compensation Fund’s R52 billion and R27 billion respectively to invest in job-oriented investment initiatives.
There were more than 4 000 prospective work-seekers who attended the Job Fair on the first day. The manual registration had by today captured 2 416 job seekers, with the electronic system having captured 108.
The next Job Fair is planned for Free State Province.