Employment and Labour minister Thulas Nxesi says his department is looking to leverage the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and the Compensation Fund (CF) as a means to preserve jobs and develop skills among the unemployed.
Nxesi tabled his budget vote Wednesday in Parliament, the department’s first budget vote since President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a directive that it would be reconfigured to put job creation at the core of its mandate.
The UIF buffers the impact of unemployment through contributions occupants make while they are gainfully employed, while the CF offers compensation to workers who lose a job or the ability to work due to occupational injuries and disease.
Nxesi did not go into detail on how the two funds would be used for the job preservation and skills development.
“Prophesies” that there would be wholesale retrenchments after the introduction of the national minimum wage this year did not come to fruition,” Nxesi added.
He conceded the R20 per hour minimum was not enough to lift people out of poverty, but was an important start, adding that indications were that some 6-million workers would benefit from the national minimum wage.
Nxesi also said that the Equity Employment Amendment Bill will be prioritised for tabling in parliament.
The bill will regulate the setting of sector-specific employment targets to address the “gross under-representation” of blacks, women, and persons with disabilities.
The bill further aims to ensure that an employment equity certificate of compliance becomes a pre-condition for access to state contracts
Nxesi said after the department’s reconfiguration, government had no excuse to stand by while jobs continued to dwindle.
SA’s unemployment rate is at record highs after it increased to 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019, with youth unemployment at over 50%.
Nxesi said passive mechanisms could be used to give the unemployed skills to empower them for the job market.