For 260 young graduates who, after completing their studies at the University of Limpopo participated in an internship programme of the Department of Social Development last year, the outlook of securing permanent employment with the department looks bleak due to an apparent lack of money by the department.
The graduates claim that the department promised to permanently employ them after completion of the programme.
“We studied Social Work with Department of Social Development bursaries. It was clear from the start that once we complete the course, we would be permanently employed at the department, but now we were told that the department does not have money,” complainant explained.
A fellow complainant described the now apparently empty promise by the department as a sign of disrespect. “I am demoralised, I was supposed to start working on 3 June but I was told I must not report for duty because the department does not have money. We were told that the department was under administration. The question is, why didn’t they tell us before; how can they toy with our emotions like that?”
Departmental Spokesperson, Adéle van der Linde explained that the department has been training a total of 792 unemployed youth from needy and child-headed families through the Social Auxiliary Work Programme since the 2008/09 financial year.
“The aim of the training was to respond to national priorities, especially with regards to the role and functions of Social Auxiliary Workers. Since the inception of the programme, a total of 180 Social Auxiliary Workers were absorbed in the department during the 2008/09 and 2009/10 financial years respectively. Six hundred and twelve workers that were trained between the 2010/11 and 2011/12 financial years, could not be absorbed due to financial constraints.”
Van der Linde elaborated on the situation by reminding that permanent employment does not only necessitate a salary and other benefits, but also requires additional infrastructure and resources. The contracts of a number of the workers were extended to allow for additional months of temporary employment.
“The initial and extended contracts, however, did not include any obligation for permanent employment of the workers and currently, the budgetary constraints persist. The complaint from the workers about their working environment is difficult to comment on, as it is difficult to ascertain which facilities are in question. However, the department acknowledges that some facilities in especially the districts of the province are currently less than ideal for its occupants and that staff members have to share office space. In some instances, this may have been aggravated by the presence of the additional occupants in the form of the interns in question,” concluded Van der Linde.