Government has generated thousands of jobs ever since the New Growth Path (NGP) was implemented by Cabinet in October last year, statistics published on Tuesday by the Minister of Economic Development reveal.
In reply to a parliamentary question on the progress of the NGP from a member of the ruling party and another from a member of the opposition, Patel outlined a number of interventions which in fact had already yielded thousands of jobs, including:
* Nearly 60 000 jobs created by the Department of Trade and Industry’s support and incentive programmes in the last financial year.
* The help and support of well over 100 000 smallholder farmers by the national and provincial agricultural departments.
* Environmental employment schemes, such as the Department of Water Affairs’ Working for Water and the Working for Land programme, which would provide over 30 000 full-time job equivalents this year, increasing to 60 000 the coming year.
* A rural youth employment programme, which has created 7 500 jobs.
Patel pointed out that the government planned to boost the number of work opportunities in the Community Works Programme to one million by 2014, of which up to 90% could possibly be reserved for young adults.
The programme offers longer-term employment to young adults than is the case in the traditional Expanded Public Works Programme, he stated.
He explained government was rolling out a number of other projects to create more work opportunities.
These were showcased at the recent Cabinet lekgotla, where 12 action plans were adopted to make sure that government prioritises measures to expand public and private sector investment.
The action plans contain measures in agriculture and agro-processing, mining industry, manufacturing and the green economy. One particular measure is the announcement of a number of large agro-processing projects for instance a seed-crushing plant in Mpumalanga, which will create up to 4 000 jobs, as well as a chicken farming project in the Free State, which would most likely employ about 800 people.
Also included is the government’s Comprehensive Rural Development Programme, which at the moment is being implemented at 65 sites.
In the mining sector, Cabinet had adopted the benefication strategy in June; had endorsed the setting up of the state-owned mining company and had identified strategies for lowering iron and steel prices. A pre-feasibility study for the setting up of a new steel mill had also been completed.
Government had at the same time launched a major effort to further improve African regional integration, with the launch of the negotiations in June for a Free Trade Area involving 26 countries with 600 million people, stretching from Cape Town to Cairo.
Patel pointed out the size of the total labour force – the total number of employed and unemployed persons – increased substantially in the first two quarters of this year, by about 200 000 persons each quarter, after dropping in every quarter of last year.
Having said that, the pace of job growth has slowed down in the recent quarter and jobs were lost in manufacturing, mining and agriculture in the second quarter, compared with the first three months of the year.