The expanded public works programme (EPWP), which created over 1m work opportunities in the past financial year, continues to uplift the youth, the poor and the unemployed.
Managed by the department of public works and infrastructure (DPWI), the EPWP created 1,016,646 work opportunities in the 2021/22 financial year, of which 415,897 (40.91%) were for the youth.
Mapule Mocwaledi is one of 367 youths being trained as artisans through the EPWP artisan development programme. She is also one of 10 students who have been placed at the TVA Training Centre in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, where she is being trained to become a diesel mechanic at SG Coal.
She says she is learning valuable skills and using them to provide for herself and her siblings. “Life has been hard for us at home since the passing of our parents. The EPWP has been my lifeline, as I am able to use the wages I receive from the programme to put food on the table,” says Mocwaledi.
“The diesel mechanic skills I’m learning also gave me the opportunity to open a small business, and I am earning an additional income by fixing people’s cars in my community,” she says.
The EPWP artisan development programme is funded by the department of higher education and training, through its National Skills Fund, and the training is implemented by the Agricultural Sector Education and Training Authority.
Persia Maphake is a beneficiary of the National Youth Service (NYS), another EPWP intervention. She has been placed at an artisan development college in Johannesburg and is training as a lift mechanic apprentice.
Maphake says the programme has given her the opportunity to learn, boosted her confidence as a young woman studying a rare trade, and provided her with the opportunity to earn an income.
“It is a wonderful feeling to wake up every morning and come to the centre to learn. I feel part of a society,” she says.
The NYS, a sub-programme of the EPWP infrastructure sector, created 9,195 work opportunities for youth in the 2021/22 financial year.
The deputy director-general of the EPWP branch in DPWI, Carmen-Joy Abrahams, says given the high unemployment rate, especially among the youth, municipalities and departments should further expand EPWP sub-programmes to attract young people.
“There is a need to apply innovation and strengthen dialogues to share best practices on youth programmes,” she says.
– This article was first published in GCIS's Vuk'Uzenzele