In the context of a global jobs crisis, there is renewed interest in the role of public employment in providing work opportunities. This context has also seen a range innovation in public employment, with new forms of work and new approaches to implementation and delivering different kinds of outcomes. The Community Work Programme (CWP) in South Africa is an example of such innovation.
The CWP was designed to use public employment as an instrument of community development, and uses participatory local processes to identify work that needs to be done to improve the quality of life in poor communities. This has resulted in a multi-sectorial work menu with a strong emphasis on care, food security, community safety and a range of other work activities. The inclusion of work in the social sector within a public employment programme creates new ways of strengthening social outcomes.
The CWP also differs from other public employment programmes with its focus on providing ongoing access to part-time work for those who need it at local level, providing an income floor in ways that draw from lessons of social protection. This design feature is a specific response to the structural nature of unemployment in South Africa, which means that for many participants, there is no easy exit from public employment into other economic opportunities; instead, the CWP supplements as well as strengthening their other livelihood strategies.
The CWP is still a relatively new programme, institutionalised in the Department of Co-operative Governance in South Africa since April 2010. This article examines the policy rationale for the CWP, describes its key design features, and explores the forms of local innovation to which it is giving rise in relation to the forms of work undertaken and the associated community development outcomes. It also explores some of the challenges of implementation and the policy questions to which this innovation in public employment is giving rise.
Download a copy: The Community Work Programme: Building a Society that Works
This paper looks at the strengths and weaknesses of current methodologies in capturing the kinds of local economic development impacts from the CWP. It aims to fill the gap of methodologies available for measuring economic multipliers in a local economy. (The Employment Promotion Programme (EPP) Research)
After the Great Depression in the 1930s, part of the recovery in the United States of America relied upon a massive programme of public works, under the Works Progress Administration. Its impact was not just as a stimulus; it also provided a focus of social participation and inclusion. Yet, in the context of the current Great Recession, public works have been only a limited part of the response across most of the developed world.
Instead, it is in the developing world that the most interesting innovation is taking place in terms of new approaches to public employment, including in India, South Africa and Ethiopia. These too perform the functions of a stimulus, targeted into local economies, impacting directly on employment and trickling up into the wider economy from there. They too are providing a focus of social participation and inclusion, in ways that are breaking new ground: changing rights frameworks, unlocking new forms of agency at community level, undertaking new forms of work and placing a social value on labour even where markets are not doing so. These processes are delivering sometimes unanticipated forms of transformation and systemic change, in some cases very locally, in others at a societal level.
In the process, longstanding debates about the role of employment in society, the scope for markets to achieve full employment, and the meaning of the right to work come up for new scrutiny also.
These issues are explored in a paper by Kate Philip, which draws on innovations in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in India and the Community Work Programme in South Africa to do so.
The implications of this are likely to have the most traction in the developing world; in the face of failing austerity policies, however, it's just possible that this is an area in which the developed world can also learn some lessons from the south.
The Transformative Potential of Public Employment Programmes, by Kate Philip, is published as part of the Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice's Occasional Paper Series. No 1/2013
Download a copy: The Transformative Potential of Public Employment Programmes
A key part of the motivation to potentially scale up the CWP to a million participants included a proposed strategy of support to schools. This research looks at the impact of CWP's schools support at a sample of schools that have received such support. (The Employment Promotion Programme (EPP) Research)
This paper looks at the role that potential poverty-reducing impact that the CWP could have is expanded. While acknowledging that there are significant non-monetary impacts, the focus is on measuring the impact that earning the CWP wage would have on household poverty and inequality. (The Employment Promotion Programme (EPP) Research)
This qualitative study assessed the impact of the Community Work Programme (CWP) on the capabilities of participants and communities. It showed the programme had significantly expanded participants capability set and had contributed to improving both individual and community wellbeing. (The Employment Promotion Programme (EPP) Research)
In the face of a long-standing unemployment crisis that increasingly threatens social and economic stability, employment has at last taken centre stage in South African policy, and with this, a focus on the structural constraints on employment creation within the economy. The New Growth Path, approved by Cabinet in November 2010, starts to tackle these issues. Its emphasis on inclusive growth places issues of distribution more clearly on the agenda than they have been; and the Competition Commission has become poor consumers' knight in shining armour, tackling collusion and highlighting the negative economic (and employment) consequences of South Africa's highly centralized core economy.
For South Africa, the promotion of small businesses remains key to creating jobs and a more equitable economy. Evidence from Chile and Malaysia – both countries with similar emerging economies as South Africa – reveals that by partnering to provide finance and business support, the government and the private sector can boost support to small businesses. This report builds on key findings by this author in other emerging countries in a 2011 TIPS report, by the same author, titled “How South Africa can boost support to SMEs: Lessons from Brazil and India”.
The Community Work Programme (CWP) was implemented as a pilot programme in Bushbuckridge and several other municipalities in 2009. The programme is essentially an employment safety net employing 2 200 people in Bushbuckridge within four sectors of community work, these being food security, palliative care, community infrastructure refurbishment and teacher assistance (education). Like many other rural areas, Bushbuckridge also experiences infrastructural, human resource and learning material shortages and backlogs in the education sector. The CWP implementing agency thus intentionally focused their support on reducing stress in the classroom by assigning CWP participants that had completed Grade 12 to assist teachers.
One of the CWP priorities within the education sector is Early Childhood Development (ECD) since this area provides a foundation for the child's learning and social skills later on. The programme has a presence in 30 crèches in Bushbuckridge and, in addition to assigning teacher assistants, also distributed educational toys and materials in September 2011 and assisted in infrastructural repairs and construction at the crèches.
In October 2011, ECD assessments were done by TEBA/Lima, with the aim of implementing a support system that will positively impact on the lives of children and ECD practitioners.
Summary of ECD questionnaire findings
This assessment of early childhood development (ECD) centres supported by the Bohlabela Community Work Programme (CWP) focused on institutional arrangements, infrastructural conditions, and the availability of learning materials and capacity in the crèche.
The findings clearly answer the question of how beneficiaries have been impacted by CWP. The findings show that the beneficiaries are pleased with the quality of services that are provided through the CWP programme such as home based care, cleaning of cre?ches and teachers assistants etc. It becomes evident that CWP has impacted and assisted beneficiaries, such as unemployed community members, sick patients, children and families, on an individual level.
The impact of the CWP programme has also taken place on an institutional level through improvements of cre?ches and schools. The benefits can lastly be seen on community level in terms of improved infrastructure, decreased unemployment and crime, cleaner environment, improved education and provision of social support services. The conclusion is therefore that the findings paint a picture where the community has been uplifted as a whole by the CWP. The findings also include answers to the question of how CWP can be developed and improved according to it's beneficiaries. Some answers are specific for the particular group of beneficiaries
such as creating access to a garden for home based care patients. Other suggestions are represented among various beneficiaries such as skills development, training and creating further opportunities to excel for those who provide services in the community through CWP
Highlighted need for improvements in terms of the working conditions within CWP related to HR matters for the people who provide services in the community are also prominent among various beneficiaries. The beneficiaries refer to HR matters such as stipends and job descriptions. Some suggested developments would impact a particular group of beneficiaries or would improve a particular project within CWP such as suggestions made by beneficiaries of increasing the working hours for teachers assistants and home based carers. The beneficiaries also identified improvements that refer to the way CWP is structured and implemented in the
community, such as improved communication between the CWP co-ordinators and the work place of the people providing services in the community and community members highlighting the need to evaluate and assess the size and the efficiency of the CWP management structures.
The interviewees from the school and the interviewees who provide services in the community highlighted investments that could be made by CWP to ensure a long term impact such as providing bursaries, training and job opportunities for the beneficiaries who work through CWP.
The Community Work Programme (CWP) is an initiative of the State President's office which is designed to create an employment safety net in rural areas. The aim of this investigation is to study whether or not the CWP has made a positive impact on the lives of its participants in social and economic areas. These initiatives are very helpful towards alleviating poverty in South Africa which is why it is important to study whether or not they are actually making the desired difference in peoples' lives
I believe that the CWP will have made a positive impact in most of the lives of its participants because it is a well structured and managed program which enables the local people to gain skills and education which gives them an opportunity to break out of poverty.
The CWP was started in 2008 in various areas of South Africa but only started in 2009 in Bushbuckridge. It falls under the Department of Cooperative Governance but it is implemented by the Lima Rural Development Foundation a non-governmental organisation operating in KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. The CWP is structured in 22 of the 135 villages in Bushbuckridge and within each village the project runs its four sectors; agriculture, construction, education and healthcare. There are two groups of participants in each sector and each group Work eight days each month (two four-day weeks) and gets paid a minimum wage of R60 per day (R480 per month). The aim of this project is to equip the communities with skills whilst also building up the communities' assets through the different sectors. The participants can stay in the program as long as they need to, but they are encouraged to go out and find formal employment or seek further education.
What if unemployed people in South Africa had a right – a real right – to a minimum level of regular work on decent terms? In 2005, India passed a law guaranteeing rural households up to 100 days of work per annum, at minimum wage rates. Over 55 million households now participate in the programme. Real policy innovation able to change society in significant ways is rare. India's employment guarantee is an innovation of this magnitude, with implications for social and economic policy, and for the role of the state as employer of last resort where markets fail. In the process, India has given new meaning to the concept of a right to work – opening new policy doors for all of us. This paper analyses the context of structural unemployment in marginal areas in South Africa, briefly describes India's employment guarantee programme, explores the rationale for an employment guarantee in South Africa – and considers lessons from the Community Work Programme on how such a guarantee could work in practise. What if unemployed people in South Africa had a right – a real right – to a minimum level of regular work on decent terms?
What if unemployed people in South Africa had a right – a real right – to a minimum level of regular work on decent terms? In 2005, India passed a law guaranteeing rural households up to 100 days of work a year, at minimum wage rates. Over 55 million households now participate in the programme.
Real policy innovation able to change society in significant ways is rare. India’s employment guarantee is an innovation of this magnitude, with implications for social and economic policy, and for the role of the state as employer of last resort when markets fail. In the process, India has given new meaning to the concept of a right to work – opening new policy doors.
This policy brief analyses the context of structural unemployment in marginal areas in South Africa, briefly describes India’s employment guarantee programme, explores the rationale for an employment guarantee in South Africa – and considers lessons from South Africa’s Community Work Programme (CWP) on how such a guarantee could work in practise.
What if unemployed people in South Africa had a right – a real right – to a minimum level of regular work, on decent terms?
In 2005, India passed a law guaranteeing rural households up to 100 days of work per annum, at minimum wage rates. Over 55 million households now participate in the programme, with significant impacts on poverty in rural India.
Could an employment guarantee be part of the solution to the crisis of unemployment in South Africa?
In a new policy paper from TIPS, Kate Philip argues the case for an employment guarantee in South Africa, using the experience of the Community Work Programme to illustrate how such an approach could work in the South African context.
“People don't eat in the long run, they eat every day”
The current economic crisis and especially its employment effects have once again brought the role of the state in employment creation strongly to the forefront. As employment provided by the private sector has shrunk dramatically, adding to an already growing employment challenge, it is increasingly recognised that the State needs to play a much more active role in employment generation. This does not only imply looking at its overall employment policy and strategy and at its role in creating an enabling environment for employment creation by the private sector, but also at the role of the State in the direct creation of employment.
The G20 leaders attending London Summit in April 2009 recognized the human dimension of the crisis and committed themselves to “support those affected by the crisis by creating employment opportunities and through income support measures” and “to build a fair and family-friendly labour market for both women and men”, through measures such as “active labour market policies”.6 The ILO Summit on the Global Jobs Crisis stressed the importance of targeted employment programmes as a response to the economic crisis. This was substantiated through the country assessments that were carried out for the G20.
The OECD held a one-day workshop in Paris in May 2010 to present the findings of a series of papers commissioned on this topic from Brazil, India, China and South Africa. Kate Philip was there.
For South Africans attending the OECD conference, watching the comparative slides on global trends flashing up on the screen is a bit like attending a performance review that you know you have failed.
'Inequality got worse since the end of apartheid? What happened?' asked an incredulous panelist. The South Africans present looked contrite.
By contrast, Brazil has reversed its trend of rising inequality for the first time since they started to track inequality in 1960. 'People had come to think of rising inequality as a natural state of affairs, as how thing are,' explained Brazilian panelist Marcelo Cortes Nero; 'Now it is clear policy action can make a difference.
For further information on the Conference, check out:
Session 5B: Employment Opportunities and Outcomes
This paper employs a reduced form Solow Growth framework to investigate the role of public investment on infrastructure on economic performance for the case of Mauritius over the period 1970-2006. Given the non-stationary characteristics of the data, an error correction model is adopted. Public capital is shown to have significantly contributed to Mauritian economic performance. Moreover results suggest that there may be indirect effects via private capital accumulation and the openness channel as well.
Unemployment is one of the biggest challenges facing South Africa. Growth has been inadequate, the skills level requirement of new jobs is continually rising, current skills among the workforce are low and inadequate numbers of low end, unskilled jobs are being created. Finding mechanisms to address this challenge is a key to South Africa’s economic success and the social cohesion of communities. This task demands a combination of macro and microeconomic strategies and falls outside the ambit of this project.
However, with over 500,000 unemployed people applying for placement in a job or for assistance with unemployment insurance through the Department of Labour, and tens of thousands more who are not eligible turning to private and non-governmental organisation (NGO) operators to assist them find work, there is an important role for employment intermediation services in South Africa. Most of those approaching the Department of Labour and the private and NGO operators reviewed in this report are unskilled or semi-skilled workers servicing the lower skills end of the labour market.
There is, in most countries, a mismatch between the demand for workers and the supply of job seekers. The causes of this vary from country to country and include: limited information and dissemination on job openings, mismatches between the skills of workers and the demand of employers, the increased mobility of labour, changes in the nature of work, a demand for more frequent upgrading of skills, poor job hunting skills by workers, labour market discrimination, and barriers to access, such as geographic location and the high costs of transport. This can contribute and exacerbate unemployment, as well as long term unemployment of certain groups of people, and/or underemployment.
Business process outsourcing and offshoring (BPO&O) is a major global trend, with a significant positive impact in developing countries that have the required skills, cost advantage and infrastructure. Over the next 4-5 years, a window of opportunity exists for South Africa to realize significant value by developing this sector. South Africa has a good starting position with a large and growing domestic BPO market, and strong capabilities in the highest growth sectors (e.g., financial services and insurance) to exploit the international opportunity. Early estimates suggest that a concerted effort could create between 65 000 and 100 000 jobs (15000-25000 direct, 45000- 75000 indirect), attract between $90-175m in cumulative foreign direct investment up to 2008 (in real terms), and result in a GDP contribution of between 0.3-0.5%.
However, to date South Africa has not been able to attract large BPO&O projects, and initiatives aimed at attracting European and US multinationals have been fragmented and largely unsuccessful. This is in marked contrast to the rapid development of the BPO&O industry and the experience of successful players such as India and Philippines, who have rapidly growing business process outsourcing industries, significantly stimulating growth and employment. For example, India is forecasting the creation of approximately 1 million direct jobs from this sector by 2008.
Please Note: The views expressed in this paper represent those of the author, and not necessarily those of The Presidency or ComMark.