‘Second chance’ for SA’s unemployed

18 May 2010

Despite losing her job as a facilitator last year, 24-year-old Mphafi Mamapepe’s determination to support her family set her on a different path. Today, she is one of hundreds of beneficiaries of the government’s Training of the Unemployed project which aims to minimise the negative effects of the recession.

The Department of Labour launched the Training of the Unemployed project early this year, one of its objectives being the re-skilling of retrenched South Africans.

South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 25.2 percent in the first quarter of 2010, with close to one million jobs have been lost as a result of the global economic recession.

The project currently trains people as electricians, boiler-makers, welders and mechanics, with more than 750 registered trainees in Gauteng province.

Department of Labour spokesperson Muzi Mkhwanazi said the department was looking at the possibility of rolling the project out to other provinces.

“People who are currently on training were drawn from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) database, and once they have completed the training another group will be called in,” Mkhwanazi said.

Mkhwanazi said that while the project was earmarked for UIF beneficiaries, those who were not UIF beneficiaries also qualified.

He added that the department would also assist with placement once the trainees had completed their training.

A second chance

Mamapepe, originally from QwaQwa in the Free State, said the project had given her a second chance.

She had been employed as a facilitator by the Education with Enterprise Trust, an NGO working with schools in the Free State. Now, she is training as a boiler-marker at the Sam Andrew Johan Training Institute in Wadeville, near Johannesburg.

While boiler-making is dominated by men, Mamapepe told BuaNews that she was determined to make a mark in the male-dominated trade. “While this job is mostly done by men, I am determined to prove that even though I am a woman, I can do what men can do,” she said.

Asked where she sees herself in five years, she said: “I would love to see myself being a Drafter.”

According to the Department of Labour, the qualifications the trainees would obtain at the end of their course met the requirements of the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Education and Training Authority.

Facing the world with confidence

Patrick Sekgobela, 26, from Phalaborwa in Limpopo, who now trains as a boiler-maker, was previously employed at Hydro Sebenza in Boksburg, where he worked as a semi-skilled boiler maker.

Sekgobela says he is optimistic that, once the training is complete in June, he will have a good job. “Now I’m going to face the world with confidence, with the right qualifications. Hopefully one day, I will own my own company,” he said.

The UIF and other government entities contributed almost R50-million to train the candidates. All those in the project are paid a stipend of R2 100 a month. UIF beneficiaries get their UIF benefits as well as the stipend.

Mark Johaar, 32, who lost his job in 2005 and is also a trainee at the Sam Andrew Johan Training Institute, sees himself as an employer upon completion of the training as welder.

“I want to start my own company and employ many people to help me,” he said. “When I lost my job, I did not know what to do, I was just frustrated.” Now, Johaar says he is optimistic about the future.

Source: BuaNews