Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea


Employment stimulus doesn’t guarantee full-time jobs for education assistants

'Anywhere between 30 to 40% will become employed on a full-time basis,' says labour analyst.

The presidential employment stimulus (PES) programme, which included more than a million young people being appointed as education assistants, has helped make more young people marketable and employable, according to experts.

Labour analyst Andrew Levy said at least one out of three young people who were part of the PES programme would be employed permanently and they would learn crucial skills and earn money in the process.

“Generally speaking, anywhere between 30 to 40% will become employed on a full-time basis.

“Not all of them, but the programme is a good entry mechanism into the labour market,” he said.

“People who are hired on a fixed term or a project, particularly if it’s a job creation project, for six to 12 months or even two years, quite a number of them would show they have learned the skills and employers would want to keep them.”

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However, Africa Check said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s claims the PES programme would help young people to be permanently employed following placements as education assistants were unproven and exaggerated.

According to Africa Check, the employment stimulus dashboard showed that in phase one of the programme, 196,949 education assistants and 122,533 general assistants were hired, while 183,533 education assistants and 93,094 general assistants were hired in phase two.

“This means 380,482 education assistants and 215,627 general assistants have been hired so far,” the organisation said.

“Combined, this adds up to 596,109 assistants. They are paid at the national minimum wage.”

Meanwhile, according to the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) education graduate Moipone Tsele, although the education assistant job helped her gain more experience in the field, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has not helped the assistants find permanent positions in the education sector.

Tsele said in the long run, it seemed more of a curse than a blessing as more permanent teachers were being employed while recent graduates were not, which meant those who were education assistants would remain just that.

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“We applied because we were unemployed, but no one wants to end up being an assistant when you studied for four years to be a teacher,” she said.

She also said the reality was that there were not enough posts available for the large number of unemployed teachers seeking positions, yet there were schools operating with 50 to 60 pupils in one class which she had witnessed as an education assistant.

“So, even though they might say there is no shortage of teachers, or they say they can’t take you as a teacher, we can see the loopholes,” she added.

“It’s sad because even though you have experience that you gained from the employment, the skills and knowledge, if they are not advertising jobs then what really is the point.”