GROUNDWORK: Progress in being made in maintaining roads. Picture: FATI MOALUSI
Decent work through the Inclusive Economic Growth Plan confirms the Free State government’s commitment to creating decent and sustainable jobs.
The plan is five-pronged:
·Inclusive and diversified
·Promotion of knowledge;
·A competitive tourism sector ;
To achieve this, the Department of Public Works has embarked on improving professional skills, upgrading and maintaining roads, revitalising the rail network, empowering women and youth cooperatives, road construction, and intensifying the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
To date, the province has created 32108 jobs against a target of 20018 through its EPWP.
EPWP have included:
·Food for Waste programme implemented in Mafube, Ngwathe, Masilonyana, Nketoana and Jagersfontien.
·Township revitalisation in Matjhabeng, Nwathe, Mangaung, Moqhaka, Nketoana, Tswelopele and Mafube municipalities. Phase two of the EPWP has been implemented in three public sectors, as well as non-public sectors. The public sectors are:
·Infrastructure: Here programmes are focusing on the maintenance and upgrading of the provincial infrastructure. This includes educational and health facilities, maintaining roads, and upgrading and renovating offices. So far, 7613 jobs have been created through infrastructure projects, out of which 66% is youth, 29% women and 0.21% disabled people.
·Environmental and cultural sector: This sector promotes a clean and eco-friendly environment with cleaning and greening. This sector has already created more than 6000 jobs of which the youth make up 62% of the workforce, women 57% and disabled people 0.16%.
·Social Sector: The sector comprises the Department of Social Development, Education and Health. Much of the input of these three departments relies on volunteers and civil society organisations and is implemented through the EPWP methodologies. Early childhood development and home-based care have been selected as the lead pilot programmes for the social sector.
In its drive to promote the livelihoods of communities, the provincial government has initiated support to communities in the establishment of non-profit organisations (NPOs). A total of 66 NPOs were established and are involved in poverty alleviation. Communities in poverty-stricken areas were also assisted through poverty alleviation programmes. About 700 households throughout the province have benefitted thus far.
·Electrical Apprenticeship Programme: This focuses on developing qualified artisans in the electrical profession. Thirteen pupils were trained at the Centlec Training and Development
·Built Environment Learnership has selected 251 pupils who signed learnership agreements for civil building (141) and plumbing (110). Pupils were selected from the Fezile Dabi and Xharieb districts.
·Contractor Development of the Public Works Department intends to develop emerging contractors into sustainable construction entities able to execute labour-intensive projects. Currently, 131 emerging contractors participate in the department’s development programme.
·New Venture Creation Learnerships: This programme, implemented by the Department of Public Works, is to develop learners to become competent entrepreneurs in the wholesale and retail sectors. The learnership is implemented in partnership with the Wholesale and Retail SETA, which is responsible for the funding of training. For this programme, 30 ventures, managed by young pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, have been created throughout the province. These new ventures were allocated projects as part of their workplace training.
·Inclusive and Diversified Economic Growth: The Free State Development Corporation (FDC) and Transnet last year signed a memorandum of understanding at the opening of the Containerised Manganese project in Bloemfontein.
The manganese cargo is transported from PMG Mining in the Northern Cape, containerised in Bloemfontein and then sent to the Durban port by rail from where it is shipped to China, where it is hardened into steel. It was expected that the project would create about 400 direct job opportunities and a further 300 to 500 indirect jobs.
The Free State and KwaZulu-Natal executive councils reached an agreement with regard to the Harrismith logistics hub, which has been identified as one of the Presidential Infrastructure Projects and will form an integral part of the Durban-Free State-Gauteng Development Route. Also, the planning processes between the provincial government and the Mangaung Metro around the N8 Corridor Development have been concluded and include promoting the following:
·Sustainable SMMEs: The Free State Investment Promotion Agency was incorporated into the FDC, but a number of challenges facing the FDC remain to be addressed, including the body’s financial management and viability.
·Technical Cooperation Project: This is to support SMMEs, in partnership with the International Labour Organisation.