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A critical evaluation of training within the South African national public works programme

Year: 2005
Author: McCord, Anna
Journal: Journal of Vocational Education and Training
Volume: 57
Issue: 4
Pages: 563-586
DOI: 10.1080/13636820500200302

This article explores the ability of the training and work experience offered under public works programmes to promote employment in South Africa. Public works are a key component of South African labour market policy and are ascribed considerable potential in terms of addressing the core challenge of unemployment. However, despite this policy prominence, the labour market impact of the training component of such programmes has not been studied systematically in South Africa, from either a theoretical or empirical basis, and this article attempts to provide an initial critique of the programme from both perspectives. This article outlines the unemployment situation in South Africa and the training component of the government's national public works programme, the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), which was developed to enhance workers' skills and labour market exposure, and thereby improve their subsequent employment performance. Theoretical and empirical arguments are used to develop a critique of the training component of the programme, and the article concludes by arguing that, as currently conceptualised, the national public works programme is unlikely to have a significant impact on skills development or unemployment, due the structural nature of unemployment, excess supply of low and unskilled labour, and the high skills growth strategy adopted by government.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13636820500200302