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Sunday World | 4 March 2024

Job creation took centre stage at the 6th State of the Nation Address in Mpumalanga on Friday.

Analysts and guests eagerly anticipated the strategies that Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane would present on addressing the 46.4% unemployment rate among young people in the province.

During her speech, at the packed legislature building in Mbombela, the Premier did not leave the issue unattended but shared the vision of Mpumalanga on job creation.

“We are in the season of jobs, jobs, jobs, and more jobs. The Quarterly Labour Force Survey released last week shows that at the end of the 4th Quarter of 2023 our province was employing 63 869 more people than in the same period in 2022. From last year, employment in our province jumped by a whopping 47 705 people, taking the overall number of people working in this province to 1.25-million. This was the highest figure in Mpumalanga in years. However, we are still concerned with a high youth unemployment rate  currently at 46,4% for young people between the ages of 15-34,” she said.

The Premier said various programmes such as the National Rural Youth Service Corps and the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) have been instrumental in creating job opportunities.

The EPWP, which has been in operation nationally since 2004, has provided over 761 000 work opportunities in the province, with a significant focus on empowering women, youth, and persons with disabilities.

“In the months ahead, the programme is set for major shake ups that will see  adoption of the Khawuleza Model to characterise the new implementation approach. This comes after the government has reviewed the past four phases  of EPWP and is planning for the next phase which will see over five million opportunities being created,” said Mtshweni-Tsipane.

In response to the high unemployment rate, the Mpumalanga Provincial Government established a Job War Room to coordinate efforts in enhancing job creation.

Through 21 identified programmes, over 63 000 jobs have been created, including initiatives like the Siyatentela Road Maintenance Programme and the Premier’s Youth Development Fund.

The latter has disbursed R258-million to fund 182 youth-owned enterprises, resulting in the creation of more than 630 jobs in sectors such asagriculture, mining, film production, and manufacturing.

“The programme will be massified to create more employment opportunities as well as upskilling and reskilling, while attempting to solve the country’s  key challenges such as road maintenance, including pothole patching, brick paving and ensuring pothole free road networks, cleaning of neighbourhoods and waste management, energy work such as retrofitting of government buildings and solar installations,  and fixing water leaks and plumbing,” said Mtshweni-Tsipane.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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