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    Overview of the Expanded Public Works Programme

    The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) has its origins in Growth and Development Summit (GDS) of 2003. At the Summit, four themes were adopted, one of which was ‘More jobs, better jobs, decent work for all’. The GDS agreed that public works programmes ‘can provide poverty and income relief through temporary work for the unemployed to carry out socially useful activities’.

    The Programme is a key government initiative, which contributes to Government’s Policy Priorities in terms of decent work & sustainable livelihoods, education, health; rural development; food security & land reform and the fight against crime and corruption.

    In 2004, the EPWP was launched and is currently still being implemented. The EPWP is a nationwide programme covering all spheres of government and state-owned enterprises. The Programme provides an important avenue for labour absorption and income transfers to poor households in the short to medium-term. It is also a deliberate attempt by the public sector bodies to use expenditure on goods and services to create work opportunities for the unemployed. EPWP Projects employ workers on a temporary or on-going basis either by government, by contractors, or by other non-governmental organisations under the Ministerial Conditions of Employment for the EPWP or learnership employment conditions.

    Training of Participants

    Training of participants is placed at the heart of the EPWP. The participants receive on the job training/ accredited or non-accredited training and learnership. A range of training opportunities within the EPWP include – but not limited to – Artisan Development Programme, Pharmacy Assistant Programme, Fire-fighting Programme, Hospitality and Chef Programme, How to start your own business Programme and many other developmental programmes.

    EPWP Sectors

    The EPWP is implemented through four sectors: Infrastructure led by the national Department of Public Works (DPW); Social led by the national Department of Social Development(DSD); Environment and Culture led by the national Department of Environmental Affairs(DEA); and the Non-State, which includes the – Community Work Programme (CWP) and Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) Programme. The latter sector is led by the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG) and the national DPW, respectively.

    All spheres of government participate in the EPWP by implementing projects, within their mandate, in compliance with the EPWP principles and guidelines.

    • Infrastructure sector involves the use of labour-intensive methods in the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure. This entails:
      • Using labour-intensive construction methods to provide work opportunities to locally unemployed people.
      • Providing training and skills development to these participants.
      • Building cost-effective and quality assets.
    • The Social Sector focuses on human development outcomes and improving the quality of life in the areas of education, health, welfare, safety and protection. The participants in the sector are afforded opportunities to undergo training to enhance their abilities in rendering improved social services while providing options for career path or graduation strategies into formal and self-employment.
    • Environment and Culture Sector employs people to work on projects to improve their local environment through programme spearheaded by various departments. The sector builds South Africa’s natural and cultural heritage, and in doing so, dynamically uses this heritage to create both medium and long term work and social benefits.
    • The Non-State Sector (NSS) Programme was introduced into the EPWP during Phase 2 as the fourth sector that would allow for the creation of work opportunities through partnerships with Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs). The sector is made up of two Programmes, namely the Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) Programme and the Community Work Programme (CWP). In the NPO Programme, a wage subsidy is used to support non-state entities to create work opportunities as part of the EPWP expansion strategy since 2009.

      The CWP on the other hand, provides a safety net for the poor, unemployed and under-employed people by providing them with regular and predictable work opportunities, thereby enabling them to earn a monthly wages. The programme supports initiatives that create employment in ways that build public or community goods and services.