Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant commits more socially-responsive investments at Northern Cape Jobs Fair
10 Aug 2012
Government should lead from the front in putting its money where its mouth is if we are to fight the scourge of unemployment. This was said by the Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant who told the Northern Cape Jobs Fairs and Summit conference that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and the Compensation Fund (CF) have placed large amounts of their investments in projects that respond to the need for infrastructure as well as projects that save or create jobs.
To date, the UIF has invested R4 billion while the Compensation Fund has set aside R2 billion which will be invested through the Industrial Development Corporation and Public Investment Corporation to be ploughed in social infrastructure projects and other job creation projects.
Delivering a keynote address at Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre under the theme: “Jobs Summit and Jobs Fair – my job my future”, Oliphant said the projects to be funded by CF will be identified and implemented once the investment mandate has been finalised.
She further announced that the Unemployment Insurance Fund, another sister public entity of the DoL has committed between R200 million to R500 million 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.
“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,” Oliphant said.
The UIF has also trained and empowered individuals on various artisan skills and to date 321 individuals have been trained. The UIF has invested R37,8 billion in Government Bonds and Parastatals.
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 of Labour which is hosting the Jobs Fairs.
“These are just some of the basket of interventions that we as government has embarked on to show that we lead from the front. 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,” she said.
The Jobs Fair concept has been initiated by the DoL under the ambit of the PES branch and it is targeted at the unemployed youth who dropped out of school, unemployed youth with school exit certificates, unemployed graduates, workers who are under employed and retrenched workers.
During Jobs Fair, the DoL uses a fully furnished state-of-the-art bus manned by trained counsellors to register work seekers. The unemployed are also empowered with soft skills, information and face-to-face search for placement opportunities.
Oliphant said recent Stats SA figures showed that the jobless rate had fallen to just under 25% - though the dent is tiny in employment numbers - was an important feature that work of the government was beginning to bear fruit.
“Today our focus is 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 the Basic Conditions of Employment. These two bills are now before Parliament. The Public Employment Services Bill and Employment Equity Amendment Bills that talks about equal work for equal pay have now been concluded at Nedlac level and will soon be presented before the executive.
“We have already started creating a database that will help employers and potential employees to 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,” Oliphant said.
She said, as stated at the first two Jobs Fairs in Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal respectively, the problem of unemployment and joblessness was a serious threat to the stability that was achieved post 1994. This makes it even more urgent for Government to do its utmost best to find ways to mitigate this developing disaster, the minister said.
“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 in 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.
“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,” urged Oliphant.
The Northern Cape Province has a population of just over a million, with unemployment estimated at 29,9%. It is expected that through its Economic Growth and Development strategy the province would also exploit the benefits of the Square Kilometre Array Telescope Project and the construction of the new University.
The next Jobs Fair is planned to be held in Limpopo at the end of the month.
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Issued by: Department of Labour
10 Aug 2012
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