Presidential Employment Stimulus PES moves to second phase
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the launch of the second phase of the Presidential Employment Stimulus (PES) represents great progress in government’s quest to create job opportunities for unemployed South Africans.
The President was addressing the nation through his weekly newsletter on Monday.
The employment stimulus was established last year in response to the devastating impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on employment.
The President said the PES required new and innovative ways of working to implement programmes at an unprecedented speed and scale.
He applauded the use of new technologies in offering employment opportunities for making recruitment much easier, quicker and more transparent.
“The recruitment process of the many people who were unemployed made use of digital platforms to reach as many eligible participants as possible. For example, small-scale farmers were able to apply for support via USSD and receive input vouchers on their cell phones.
“Since the Department of Basic Education opened applications for the next cohort of school assistants just two weeks ago, over 940 000 young people have applied via the zero-rated recruitment platform called SAYouth.mobi, which forms part of the national Pathway Management Network,” the President said.
As part of phase two, the President said government is establishing a Social Employment Fund that will support work for the common good, led by community organisations in areas as diverse as urban agriculture, public art, informal settlement upgrading and community safety.
“In the midst of the severe economic setback caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, public and social employment has provided an important stimulus to job creation. This is the implementation of our commitment that the State should actively support employment while the labour market recovers,” he said.
President Ramaphosa has commended the PES for bringing young people into the labour force in far greater numbers in an unprecedented manner in a short space of time.
He said that some 84% of the participants in phase one were young people under the age of 35, and two-thirds were women.
“In phase two, we expect this number to be even higher, as the stimulus will provide almost R1 billion in funding for the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention. As part of the intervention, several young people will be recruited into a revitalised National Youth Service.
“Young people will receive training in digital skills and youth-owned enterprises will receive support to expand and hire,” President Ramaphosa said.
Importance of social partnership
The President said the employment stimulus has shown the importance of social partnership, with government, business, labour and civil society coming together to bring those who are unemployed into the economy.
More than half a million South Africans have already benefitted from the first phase, with several programmes still underway.
He said participants were given the opportunity to earn a livelihood, to learn new skills and upgrade existing ones, and to use their experience as a springboard to get another job or to self-employment.
For example, he said a number of participants appointed by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure in its phase one programmes were able to secure private sector employment by the end of March 2021.
“Many of those in the first cohort of school assistants have found their way into employment, armed with experience, training and references.”
The President said the programmes implemented through the employment stimulus have also benefited communities more broadly.
“The focus has been on job creation in sectors with direct social impact such as education, food security, public infrastructure maintenance and environmental protection.
He added that the PES has also enabled and facilitated cooperation in the public sector.
“Programmes in phase one were implemented by 11 national departments and their activities were aligned to avoid duplication and wastage, and enhance learning from the experience of others,” he said.
The Statesman has reiterated that unemployment remains a crisis in the country.
“We cannot afford endless delays in addressing this problem because of bureaucratic red-tape, outdated recruitment processes, lack of capacity and planning, or programmes that are short-lived or unsustainable.
“I have no doubt that the next phase of the Presidential Employment Stimulus will bring us even closer to meeting our collective goal of decent work and opportunity for all,” President Ramaphosa said.