EPWP changing lives

Kholiwe Skom spent seven years unemployed after completing a business college diploma,

until she found work earlier this year as a school administrative assistant as part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

Recalling the years she tried to get work while volunteering her services with various organisations, she says: “I cry when I think about it.”

But today Skom, 31, who works at Joe Slovo Primary School in Port Elizabeth, is more optimistic. “I think it [the work opportunity] is going to count for something.”

She was placed at the school by Sophakama, a non-profit organisation which is funded in part by an allocation from the EPWP.

 Her aim is to use the work experience to get a permanent job. In June and July, she completed training in computers, time management and written business skills at Khanyisela TVET College.

The monthly stipend she receives allows her to take care of her two children aged seven and three.

Creating work opportunities Between its inception in 2004 and the end of the second phase in 2014, the EPWP produced more than 5.6 million work opportunities.

The third phase of the programme, which kicked off in 2014, is expected to produce a further six million work opportunities

by 2019, with a third of these already having been created by the end of June this year.

In a mid-term evaluation of the EPWP by the Department of Public Works in 2011 almost half

of all beneficiaries indicated that their financial situation and that of their families had improved after they took part in the programme.

Importantly, the department projects that South Africa’s unemployment rate would have been 2.8 percentage points higher in 2012 had it not been for the EPWP.

The review also found that the programme’s second phase lowered the poverty rate by less than 0.5 percent.

The department attributed this partly to the programme providing job opportunities

for only about 2.5 percent of the poor in the country or about seven percent of the unemployed.

The average job during the second phase lasted only 65 days, at an average daily wage of R62.

By June 2015 the average had climbed to R105.85 a day, according to statistics from the department.

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