Picture: 123RF/KRITCHANUT
Picture: 123RF/KRITCHANUT

The government's Jobs Fund is beginning to yield results and more than 220,000 sustainable jobs have been created to date, parliament heard on Tuesday.

Briefing members of the standing committee on appropriations, Najwah Allie-Edries, head of the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund, said that since 2011 the fund had facilitated the creation of about 168,000 permanent and nearly  53,000 short-term jobs .

The R9bn Jobs Fund was launched in 2011 by the president to support initiatives that pilot innovative approaches to employment creation.

The government has been struggling to address the unemployment crisis, with joblessness now at about 27%.  This has also had a negative impact on growth, with the World Bank recently noting that high unemployment and slow growth in household credit extension are expected to constrain domestic demand in 2019. In its January 2019 Global Economic Prospects report, the bank revised SA’s GDP growth forecast to 1.3%, down from its June 2018 estimate of 1.8%.

Allie-Edries said the Jobs Fund was not intended to tackle the structural causes of low growth and unemployment.

“Many other government initiatives are directed at these.  Rather, the Jobs Fund is an opportunity to complement these efforts with a targeted programme of support for effective labour market interventions that promise job creation in the short to medium term, and will provide a knowledge base of successful job creation models that can be replicated by government and the private sector to achieve maximum impact over the long term,” said Allie-Edries.

The Jobs Fund had four funding windows focused on job creation from the supply side (upskilling beneficiaries to ensure they can adequately fill available roles) and the demand side (stimulating enterprise growth resulting in new positions in the labour market).

Allie-Edries said that the economic slowdown had resulted in lower project activity and lower project cash flows.

“Although SA has been burdened with low GDP growth and disbursement has not reached 100% of the target, the Jobs Fund and its partners continue to deliver on their mandate…key focus [is] on priority areas [women, youth and the previously disadvantaged]; support for the growth of SMMEs, smallholder farmers, and work seekers.”

She said a large proportion of job creation takes place in the agriculture sector, followed by micro businesses, wholesale and retail trade, admin and support, and ICT.

“To date the fund has demonstrated that it is possible for the private sector, public sector and civil society organisations to collaborate, share risk and achieve greater social impact by implementing innovative models for job creation and thereby catalysing broader participation and inclusion in the economy,” said Allie-Edries.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za