Speech by Hon Nchabeleng during the National Assembly second reading debate on Employment Services Bill

12 November 2013

Hon Speaker
Hon President
Hon Deputy President
Hon Members
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Tackling unemployment requires all of us to join hands for the good of the country. The future of our country is in our hands, all of us.

Unemployment is part of what was inherited form our ugly past. Whilst no-one today wants to own up for the apartheid mess, the ANC has rolled up its sleeves and tackled the problem of unemployment from every possible angle.

Whilst some opposition parties claim to care about addressing unemployment, their actions are in sharp contrast to the course. The opposition parties have perfected the art of sounding politically correct, whilst on the other hand putting road blocks in every progressive intervention that the ruling party introduces.

Honourable Speaker;

In the world of today which is characterised by globalization, the unemployment problem has become a worldwide problem. It is endemic in both developed and developing countries. But for developing countries, this problem brings more challenges (like increased poverty) and complications (like political and social instability). "Unemployment is probably the most severe problem South African society is experiencing and it is conceivably the root cause of many other problems, such as high crime rates, violence, abject poverty and so on. Prominent leaders in and outside government have also stated that no government will be able to govern South Africa if this problem is not addressed effectively".

In the third quarter of 2013, South African jobless rate decreased to 24.7 percent, the lowest value in almost two years. The number of people without work went down to 4.66 million, from 4.72 million in the previous three months. Between the second and the third quarter of 2013, the number of employed persons increased by 308 000 while the number of unemployed persons decreased by 114 000. This resulted in a rise of 194 000 in the labour force. The formal sector and private households contributed positively to the increase in employment, up by 314 000 and 39 000 respectively. In contrast, there was a decline in employment in the informal sector (down by 39 000) and in Agriculture (down by 6 000). The uneconomically active population decreased by 82 000 persons, largely as a result of the decline in discouraged work-seekers (down by 125 000) while the remainder of the uneconomically active group increased by 43 000.

Honourable Speaker,

The Employment Services Bill is a welcome intervention as it seeks to introduce regulatory instruments to facilitate among other things:

  1. Matching work seekers with available work opportunities;
  2. registering work seekers;
  3. registering job vacancies and other work opportunities;
  4. facilitating the placing of work seekers with employers or in other work opportunities;
  5. advising workers on access to education and training;
  6. advising workers on access to social security benefits;
  7. providing specialised services to assist vulnerable work seekers;
  8. facilitating the exchange of information among labour market participants including employers, workers and work seekers, private employment agencies, Sector Education and Training Authorities and training providers;
  9. facilitating the employment of foreign nationals in a manner that is consistent with the object of this Act and the Immigration Act; and
  10. generally, performing any other function in terms of employment law or prescribed in terms of this Act.

The Bill provides an elegant answer to the frequently asked question regarding what the Department of Labour is doing to facilitate the absorption of the unemployed in the labour market.

This Bill, if signed into law will go a long way in providing a structured approach to addressing the unemployment scourge in South Africa. It will also test the commitment of the private sector to work with government in the efforts to address unemployment.

Any party that is not on the side of this Bill cannot claim to be part of the solution. We are convinced that it is a step in the right direction and given time, real collaboration, has a great potential to move the country forward.

We therefore call on all who love this country to step forward and be part of doing the right thing. Supporting this Bill will be a good start.

Further the Bill covers issues such as:

  1. Promotion of employment of youth and other vulnerable work seekers;
  2. job retention;
  3. employment information;
  4. reporting on vacancies and filling of positions;
  5. registration of private employment agencies;
  6. cancellation of registration of private employment agency;
  7. regulating the practice of charging of fees by private employment agencies;
  8. establishment of the Employment Services Board
  9. regularising the establishment and functioning of Productivity SA; and
  10. Promotion of supported work for persons with disabilities.

Honourable speaker;

The Bill captures the essence of Government’s New Growth Path, the Industrial Policy Action Plan and the 2030 vision in the National Development Plan.

It follows therefore, that this Bill serves as an excellent instrument to realise the national agenda and key priorities of this country. Forward with the Public Employment Services Bill, forward.