Government releases EPWP second quarter figures

Cape Town - Government today released the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) second quarter figures, which show that it is on track to achieve set targets.

According to the latest verified figures tabled, government has thus far created a total of 223,568 work opportunities through its Expanded Public Works Programme from the period 01 April to 31 August 2009.

Describing the latest figures as being on track in achieving set targets, Minister Doidge said the latest figures indicated a spirited increase in work opportunities created in EPWP compliant projects during the second quarter as compared to the 83,914 work opportunities created in the first quarter.

Doidge said the figures were a solid foundation to create 4.5 million work opportunities for poor and unemployed people in South Africa by 2014, as announced by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address in June.

Zuma promised that government would not only create 500 000 job opportunities by December 2009, but a further four million by 2014.

"We should not lose sight of the larger task of targets set to be met by 2014. The targets of 500 000 work opportunities set for December will be met and released once verified in January 2010. These opportunities form the base for accelerated creation of work opportunities as laid out in the ANC election manifesto and our government's Programme of Action."

According to Doidge, a further 80 000 more employment opportunities were awaiting verification to see if they could be classified as job opportunities too.

The EPWP seeks to draw a significant number of unemployed South Africans into productive work, enabling them to gain skills and increase their capacity to earn income in the future.

The minister, who was updating the media on the progress made in the Social Protection and Community Development Cluster outlined the various programmes run by sectors under which the second phase of the EPWP were being implemented. He said each project aimed to change the lives of unemployed South Africans.

The second phase of the EPWP, which was launched in April 2009, has four sectors namely: social, environment, infrastructure, economic and non-state. The programme was currently targeting unemployed youths, women and children together with people with disabilities.

In this phase, community gardens, vegetation, home-based care, crèches and school cleaning will be given priority.

"There are other programs such as the Food for Waste that we recently launched in the Greater Kokstad Municipality were 100 community members were trained in waste collection and management in exchange for food parcels … so we are making progress," said Doidge.

Doidge, however, acknowledged that they were experiencing some challenges due to the unavailability of accredited training providers.

To address this, the department together with other departments like Health and Education were identifying service providers.

He said despite difficulties, government would not relax its targets. "It is useful to have a target. It is a learning curve for us to be able to advise and support the other two spheres," said Doidge, adamant that government would meet its deadline.

"The target of 500 000 jobs will be met and realized, once verified in January 2010. These opportunities form the base of accelerated creation of work opportunities as laid out in government's programme of action." - BuaNews